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1 Mary Fisher
Cornell University Library
The story of the Mary Fisher home.
3 1924 030 300 283
The original of this book is in
the Cornell University Library.
There are no known copyright restrictions in
the United States on the use of the text.
http ://arch i ve . o rg/detai Is/cu31 924030300283
The Story of
Mary Fisher Home
By MARY A. FISHER
THE SHAKBSPEARB PRESS
114-116 B. 28th St.
By Mary A. Fisher.
To Mrs. G. Thurston Seabury, to whom the Mary Fisher
Home is indebted for its beautiful building at Mt.
Vernon, New York — the Seabury memorial —
this volume is respectfully dedicated
by the author.
The Story of
The Mary Fisher Home
Mt. Vernon, New York Tenafly, New Jersey
A Home for those who have labored in Literature,
Art, Education, Music — or any of the various professions
How it came to be founded, and an account of some
of the curious and peculiar characters that it has sheltered
— grotesque, comical, pathetic. Also one of the saddest
cases in the annals of the White Slave traffic.
THE POE COTTAGE— THE POE PARK
The true story of the noble effort of Mrs. M. Fay
Peirce to restore the home of the poet, Edgar Allan Poe,
as it was when he lived there with his charming young
wife — the grounds around the cottage so picturesque in
their rural simplicity and beauty — and the later effort of
Mrs. John C. Coleman in its behalf.
A letter from Edwin Bjorkman to President Woodrow
Wilson showing what is done by some other nations in
the cause of literature — he suggests that something be
done as a national recognition to the American man of
How the Home came to be started.
Early meetings — Prominent people.
The first guests — A diet on one dollar per week — The
protege of George William Curtis — A novel kind of
trade — The picture in the Rogues' Gallery — The young
The music teacher — The old homestead in Connecticut —
The wish of her life gratified — We move from Brook-
lyn — A friend in Percy Pyne — The name Home-Hotel
had to be changed — The question, should we receive
old men sinners? — One sinner that repented — The
"kicks" of the ungrateful — The wonderful clock.
The unsuccessful — The high soprano — The classic scholar
and lecturer — Her unappreciative audience — A gro-
tesque visitor — A remarkable intellect — The Civil Ser-
vice at Washington.
The old German professor— The brother and sister— The
protege from St. George's Society— A singular Court
case — The English actress— Her reminiscences of the
English stage — The Keenes — Miss Braddon, the nov-
elist—Dion Boucicault, the tyrant— St. Barnabas
House — Beautiful clothing sold for a trifle— The church
at the end.
How a philanthropic gentleman was deceived by a woman
— Was she responsible for his loss ? — The picture post-
poned — The semi-insane — Patti's violinist — The lec-
The medical students — Working his way with his music —
A faithful lady-love — The young palmist — A pris-
A Polish physician — A willing convert — The Society of
Spiritualists — He attends a stance — The harp plays
the airs of his native country — A troublesome guest —
The four o'clock breakfast — St. Johnland — The Monti-
The student of Columbia — His mother and sister — Mak-
ing pies for the Women's Exchange — The young engi-
neer — A miserly old lady — The writer of poems — Dr.
The two sisters — A kind brother — Imitating Joan d' Arc
— A theological hermit — She makes a new translation
of the Scriptures — A sister-in-law's welcome — An
angry brother— A spirit for speculation— A new busi-
Emma has curious merchandise for sale — A pathetic
spectacle — A wasted life — The treasures of art — The
three wise women from the West — Her charity lodger
— All are turned into the street — The spirit of specula-
tion again — The kitchenette for parlor and bedroom —
The beggar woman and baby — Turned into the street
again — The Charity Organization Society takes care of
Our comical help — The young laundryman — The escaped
monk — Will he return to the monastery ? — The mystery
of the night.
The aged sculptor — How a poor neighbor was their
greatest benefactor — His paralyzed wife — The public
school principal — Her romantic career — An unfortu-
nate marriage — A grateful guest.
J. Wells Champney, the artist — His comical old teacher
of long ago — His eccentric habits — An epicure difficult
to please — A convert of Jerry McCauley — His religious
mania — A troublesome guest — The doctors at Bellevue
— The diamond wedding — Our Home moves to Mi.
Vernon — Our new Home founded at Tenafly, New
The young book-keeper — The detective's mistake — An-
other case of unwarranted suspicion — The artist of the
Triumphal Arch — The final work of his life — Disap-
pointed hopes — A sad suicide — A melancholy young
Lazy people — The beautiful lesson of the Christ — Unap-
preciative people — Elbert Hubbard's example — The
poet Whittier — A young lady totally deaf — Her Boston
An interesting lady — The Episcopal clergy fund — What
ten cents a year can do — Walter Raleigh — The Board
of Education — A beautiful lecture spoiled by political
A Belgian editor — Without a bed — His big white cat —
A troublesome guest — A great student — His queer diet
— His whims and vagaries.
The young artist— Ireneus Prime of the Observer— Her
method of painting— Her comical lover — A holiday for
two on fifty cents— The work of a summer— An aged
A missionary from the Island of Ceylon — The use of a
photograph — A cowardly man — An irate Englishman
— His own story — An exacting widow.
A woman inventor.
A girl with delusions — She seeks a career — A false
witness — A disappointed husband — A case of insanity.
A husband with a forgetful memory — A surprise awaited
him — Husbands de trop.
The morphine habit — The artist imposed upon — Mrs. J.
Hood Wright — The artist of the Andes — A remarkable
physician — The hospital sister — A beautiful Jewess —
The girl was not a sinner — The playwright.
A girl from the West — A stranger's visit — A new pro-
fession — Should she trust him? — Hard work — The
reward of industry — The women braver than the men.
The deadly feud — An unknown woman — Arthur Lumley,
the illustrator and journalist — His industrious life —
His work arrested by blindness — His death.
The White Slave victim— A faithful nurse— A living
Bequests and contributions — Mrs. Seabury's most gen-
erous gift — The new Home at Mt. Vernon is built —
The dream of my life realized — The Association re-
Reminiscences — The lapidary — A victim of morphine —
The heir to half a million.
A chapter on dogs — A friendly dray — Rex's untimely
end — A collie and a rat terrier.
A ghost in the bedroom — A streak of fortune — Seven
trunks — Moody and Sankey — A house full of cats.
Too ardent a lover — The two orphans — A possible
Our Tenafly Home.
Annual Report of Secretary, 1914.
The House of Mary.
The True Story of the Poe Cottage and the Poe Park.
Rose McAlister Coleman's Letter.
A Beautiful Letter by Edwin Bjorkman.
The Mary Fisher Home
"What first prompted you to start such a Home?" is
a question that has often been asked of me.
Well, the first idea came to me when a girl in my teens.
I was visiting Hampstead, my birthplace in England,
and my Mother was showing me where Leigh Hunt and
other literary celebrities used to live when she was a
girl, when my attention was attracted to a handsome
house and spacious grounds, and I said, "I wonder who
"Oh, that's a Home for governesses," answered a man
who was carrying in some parcels at the gate.
Now, at that time, there was no pension in this coun-
try for public school teachers, and I remembered that
when we were in New York we used to see an old lady
going on her crutches to teach in a public school, and
we knew a little of her history — that she had been many
years a widow, and had struggled to keep a home for
an invalid sister, and her little boy, and could not save
anything for the time of need.
As I looked at that beautiful Home, and thought of
that crippled teacher I said to my Mother —
"How nice it would be if we had a Home like that for
aged teachers in New York."
After that, I was entered as a student in a Parisienne
pension, where many, like myself, came for the study of
the French language and literature.
14 THE STORY OF THE
Among them was a young lady of about twenty-five
years, who was a sort of literary protegee of the King of
Sweden. She had written some articles for the papers
which had attracted his notice, and he thought he saw
in her a rising young genius, provided she had the op-
portunity of a wider education, so he paid for her to
come to Paris, and met her expenses at the pension.
On our voyage home to New York we had for a fellow
passenger a gentleman who had been secretary to Sir
John Franklin, the explorer, and he often spoke of the
sad death of that great man, who had made it the aim
of his life to find a passage through the Arctic Ocean;
but the very season when he set out with his well-
equipped expedition, there was no break in the eternal
ice, as there had been in years before, and they all
One expedition after another was sent out by the Brit-
ish government, but all in vain. Then Lady Franklin,
who was a devoted wife, spent her own fortune to equip
an expedition, and they were successful. They found
the bones, with the records all beautifully recorded and
There was also on board a young man who had lived
in the house of Macaulay, the historian, who could tell
of conversations he had heard between Macaulay and
other literary stars, and I heard a great deal said about
pensions awarded to men who had given their lifework
for the benefit of the nation.
That night, when my Mother and I were alone to-
gether, I said : "How nice it would be if we could have
government pensions like that."
"We have enough wealthy and charitable Americans
to advocate it," answered my Mother; "it only requires
the right people to start it."
MARY FISHER HOME i$
"I wish I could find the right people," I said.
Some years afterward I was teaching in a girl's private
school, and it was one of my duties to go out with the
young ladies when they took their daily walks, or made
One day, when we were in a music store, selecting
some new songs, the clerk leaned over the counter, and
showing us a new waltz said. "Here is something that
is very popular, and the poor old man who composed it,
is dying in a tenement house round the corner."
"Do you know much about him?" one of the girls
"All I know is, that he is old and poor, and the jani-
tor's wife does what she can for him. He has probably
outlived all his family, and his friends have forgotten
him, or he may be too proud to appeal to them ; it hap-
pens that way sometimes."
On the next Saturday, when the school closed, two of
us found our way to the old composer.
He was lying on a cot-bed; the room was miserably
cold, and barely furnished. There were rude pine shelves
all around the walls laden with music.
"You see he didn't belong to any church, so he
couldn't be got into any of the church homes," said the
Again it occurred to me that we ought to have a non-
sectarian home for brain-workers, such as this poor old
man, and for years the thought was brewing in my brain,
without taking any tangible form. I remembered that
in Europe pensions were often accorded to those who,
during their lifetimes, had been of some benefit to the
nation, and it seemed to me that in this country the peo-
ple must do what the government failed to do, and I
i6 THE STORY OF THE
hoped that in time we might have a national fund for
However, this was too gigantic a scheme for the
present, and I had to be contented to let it simmer down
to just one Home at the best. But I was only an obscure
woman, teaching in a school. I felt I should only be
laughed at if I broached this subject to any one. I had
no wealthy friends, and what could I expect to do.
However, I could not give it up. In all my quiet mo-
ments it was present with me. I believe I took a whole
year to decide upon a name for the Home. At last, it
came to me. While in France, I had seen that so often
a large house is called a hotel. So I said to myself that
I would call my home the Home-Hotel. Hitherto, I had
not spoken to anyone about it. However, one day I
summoned courage, and laid my plan before my good
father. Now, he had some years before given me six
hundred dollars to publish a book which I had written,
and which like many another such literary ventures had
not proved a financial success, and consequently he was
somewhat prepared to hear from me something of a
chimerical and visionary character. But he listened at-
tentively to my project.
Finally he said, "Well, you can but try. I will give
you this house to start with." I was delighted. I was
now teaching in a boys' public school, but that summer,
instead of taking a vacation, I busied myself helping to
paint and paper, and furnish the spare rooms according
to my taste, and within the bounds of my very limited
exchequer. My father said I reminded him of a visit
he once paid to an abbey in England, where the abbess,
who had been a lady of title, showed him her hands, say-
ing, "Look, my hands are as hard as any man's. I have
MARY FISHER HOME 17
done all sorts of mechanical work and enjoyed it." I am
sure that abbess was not any happier in her work than
I was in mine.
My next step was to start out on my voyage of dis-
covery — looking for people who would give me their
names as in sympathy with this project. I did not ask
The first person that I called upon was Daniel Hunt-
ington, the artist. I read my paper to him. He sat
thinking for a while, then he said he approved of it, if
it could be done, but he wouldn't give his name to it,
because he was afraid it would fall through. However,
he gave me the names of several people to call upon,
and I began to make my rounds, and introduced myself
the best way I could by writing on my card that Mr.
Huntington, the artist, had suggested that I call. But
it was a discouraging affair ; they always suggested some
one else, and would say:
"You ought to call on Mr. So and So ; he has lots of
money, I should think he would like to do this thing;
as for myself, I have so many things on hand that I
couldn't go into it."
One gentleman said — "Now be sure to go to Mr. A.,
he has married a very rich woman, and this is the very
thing that he ought to be interested in, for he was once
poor enough himself."
But Mr. A. declared that he had no time to attend to
However, that good man, President Barnard of Col-
umbia, received me very kindly. He told me how much
i8 THE STORY OF THE
he appreciated modest beginnings, and gave me an ac-
count of how frugally he and his wife had lived during
the early years of their married life. I felt very proud
when he offered me one of the college rooms for a meet-
ing. Also, I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. and Mrs.
St. Gaudens, and their little nine-year-old boy, Homer,
Mrs. Chauncey Depew, Miss Elizabeth Bisland, Mrs.
William Choate, Mrs. Andrew Carnegie, and hold in af-
fectionate remembrance some who have passed away —
Mrs. Embury, Mrs. Esther Herrman and Mrs. A. F.
Wainewright. Gen. Jas. Grant Wilson was for some
time our Treasurer. Mr. Frank E. Vaughan often gave
me valuable advice, and much personal service in start-
ing our Home at Tenafly.
I was not in the 400, but I had one last hope. Among
the names that Mr. Huntington had given me, was that
of Mrs. Vincenzo Botta, a lady who drew around her
the literati of this country, and of any other country
who happened to light upon these shores. She used to
have at her weekly receptions the most fashionable peo-
ple of the city. But then Mrs. Botta was in Europe and
would not return for many months. At last she came,
and found my letter waiting for her. She seemed pleased
with the project. She appointed a time for me to call,
and Mrs. Inez Ludlow, the artist, who had entered
earnestly into the project from the beginning, accom-
panied me. Mrs. Botta gave me her visiting list of two
hundred ladies, and offered me her spacious drawing-
rooms for our meetings, saying, "The work will be end-
less." How often since then have I thought of her words,
for the work has been endless.
At last, the important day came. A large array of
fashionable ladies responded to the call, and I believed
my success was assured. But alas, there were many
MARY FISHER HOME 19
minds among them. One prominent speaker said that
she had long wanted to see such a home as an adjunct
to the Woman's Hospital, and that it must be for women
only. Quite a number agreed with her. Another lady
thought it ought to belong to the Woman's Exchange,
and a large number agreed with her, that it should be
for women only. I saw the thing was drifting away
from me, still I would not give up. I said it must be a
home for brain-workers both men and women — those of
the various professions without regard to age or creed.
Then Mrs. Botta spoke of Edgar Poe, whom she had
known intimately, and that he had told her how dis-
appointed he was when he received only ten dollars for
his poem of "The Raven."
"Edgar Poe," said one of the ladies, starting to her
feet, "if you are going to take such men into your home,
I for one would rather throw my money into the fire."
Mrs. Botta had been smiling in her chair at the discus-
sions, but she now rose and said, "My dear madam,
Edgar Poe has been much misunderstood. No one
knew him better than I did. He was always welcome
at my house, and I can vouch for this fact, that one glass
of wine would go to his head, and make him dizzy. I
knew him when he worked as a fag on a magazine most
faithfully, and I am sure he was generally underfed."
Finally the company dispersed; nothing had been ac-
complished, but a few remained behind who agreed with
me, promising their support if I could get members
enough. Among them was Miss Kate Sanborn, who
said with a sigh, "A home for old authors and artists!
My ! what a company of cranks ! What will you do with
But notices had crept into the public press, and appeals
had begun to reach me. Some cases were so pathetic,
20 THE STORY OF THE
that I determined to wait no longer. So with a small
subscription list, and my own modest income, I decided
to make the venture, and we started the Home at J\
Java Street, Brooklyn, in the house my Father had given
We held our meetings at the house of Mrs. Ludlow,
and made new friends and subscribers, among them Mrs.
O. M. Harper, Mrs. Marie T. Lange, Miss Leila R.
Ramsdell, Mrs. R. T. Auchmuty, Mrs. Henry Lewis
Morris, Mrs. William P. Clyde, Mrs. M. Fay Peirce,
Mrs. Leon Hess, Mrs. Esther Herrman, Mrs. Chas. S.
Homer, Mrs. John Hone, Mrs. William C. Osborn, Mrs.
Theo. Harris, Mrs. G. H. Warren, Mrs. Chas. E. Sher-
man, Mrs. E. F. Shepherd, and many others who have
been loyal to the Home ever since. For many years Mrs.
Ludlow was our faithful Treasurer.
The first guest in our Home was an aged American
actress. I met with her through going one day into one
of the offices of the Charity Organization Society. The
agent had upon her table a quantity of dolls' leather
shoes beautifully made, of all different colors, and of
various sizes to suit every kind of doll. These were
only fifteen cents a pair.
THE OLD ACTRESS..
"How can any one afford to make them for such a
price?" I asked.
"Ah, but she is a very poor old lady," said the agent,
"and that is all the stores pay her; she can make several
MARY FISHER HOME si
pairs in a day, and is very glad to get fifteen cents ; after
buying the materials, it leaves her ten cents' profit."
After the old actress came to us I was often amused
at the little incidents in the story of her life which she
told us. Her husband had been the manager of a small
theatrical company that travelled about the country.
When he died she was too old for the stage, as her voice
was gone. Like many another, she thought if she came
to New York, she could find something to do, for she
was intelligent and well educated. But nothing turned
up; her only qualification for business was her fine
needlework; and no business house or dressmaker
wanted a poor shabby-looking old lady. She found her
money was running out. She took a room in a miser-
able neighborhood, where rents were low, and I found
her in a wretched tenement with very little furniture;
there was a little dark closet supposed to be a bedroom.
But she had no use for this. I did not see any bed, but
across the room a hammock was hung, and she told me
this was where she slept, as it kept her free from any-
thing obnoxious in the shape of vermin.
"Before I came to your Home I had some comical ex-
periences," she said one day. "I had heard that they
gave out provisions to the poor at the City Hall once a
week during the winter, but that they required a letter
of reference from some respectable citizen.
"As I was a stranger in New York and didn't know a
single soul, what was I to do for a letter? I thought the
matter over ; then a bright idea occurred to me, and as
I write a good hand, I sat down and wrote the letter
myself, saying that the bearer was a poor woman, honest
and respectable, etc., and I signed my own name. I said
to myself, 'It can't be a forgery, since I have signed my
own name,' and I posted down to the City Hall. But
22 THE STORY OF THE
the place was shut up, and I found it was a holiday. I
had only a few cents left, and was feeling faint, for I
had walked a long way; then, on Third Avenue, I saw
a sign, 'The Charity Organization Society.' I thought
perhaps there would be ladies there who would buy some
of my dolls' shoes. I told the agent my story — that I
had to wait till next week to get the desired provisions
from the City Hall. She seemed to be very sorry for
me, and she gave me twenty-five cents from her own
pocket; this kept me another week in food, for I ate
mostly oatmeal, which is cheap and nourishing, and my
rent had been paid in advance for the month.
"So on the following Monday I hurried down to the
City Hall with my letter. Several people with baskets
were coming out. One Irish woman said, 'All they guv
us today wus herrin's and perates, if I'd h' known that,
I wouldn't a come, 'twasn't worth a spendin' shoe leather
for.' However, I pushed my way in, and said to a police-
man who was in the hall, T have a letter, where shall
I go ?' He pushed open a door, and pointed to a fat man
sitting on a platform. To this potentate I went and of-
fered my letter, which he took and read carefully. Then
with a good-natured smile on his fat face he handed the
letter back to -me saying, 'All right, missus, but the stuff
is all given out for today — won't be any more till next
"When I came out I found the Irish woman who had
grumbled at the provision ; she was coming my way.
'Was this yer fust time comin' here ?' she asked. 'I never
seen yer before. It was a poor lot they guv out today.'
I told her that I should have been very glad of a herring
and a few potatoes. We walked on a while, and when
she came to her own corner she said, 'Look here; take
this here herrin', I've got better y an this at home,' and
MARY FISHER HOME 23
she put in my basket a large fat herring and two big
potatoes. I didn't know how to thank her enough.
That evening I had a feast; the herring and potatoes
lasted me two days, and then you called on me."
NOT A LUTHERAN.
A German society was interested in an old gentleman,
who had spent some forty years in this country, but
could speak very little English. No one seemed to know
how he had made a living. He called himself an artist,
but this could not be verified in any way, as he had only
a few very poor specimens to show. It was supposed
that his wife, who was now dead, had been a hard work-
ing woman, and that she had supported him. However,
we took him in, and gave him some sweeping to do.
When he had been with us about a year, I heard that
there was a Lutheran Home for old men, and I applied
to the Lutheran minister in his behalf, for I felt that he
had more claim there than he had upon us, for we had
so many applicants who could not be taken into any
"I know him well," said the minister. "I knew his
wife, but he wouldn't come to church with her, and so,
as he is not a Lutheran in good standing, I shall not in-
terest myself in him. There are reasons why they would
not take him into the Isabella Home, and the right place
for him is the city almshouse."
However, while he was very unhappy at the thought
of leaving us to go to the almshouse, a sister-in-law of
his turned up, and said she could not let the husband of
her sister go to such a place, and she took him home
with her, much to our relief.
24 THE STORY OF THE
My next guest was a bright old lawyer, who had been
taking care of an idiotic boy in return for his board,
rather than be a burden to his friends.
He was nearly eighty years old, and was breaking
down under the strain. He was most grateful for a shel-
ter with us. The poet Whittier was interested in an
afflicted young woman, the sister of a deceased young
poet, and wrote to me about her. We offered her a
welcome, and through her made a friend of Phillips
Brooks, as there was no home of this kind in Boston.
Soon we began to fill up.
Certainly we had a few cranks who tried my patience.
One would not come to her meals, but insisted on lower-
ing a little basket from her window, and having her
food sent up to her by this method. She was not more
than forty, had been a beautiful girl, but determined to
live shut up by herself. She made translations of plays
and stories. I had found her in a little room with five
cents' worth of peanuts and a cup of milk for her dinner.
Mrs. Bottome, of the King's Daughters, sent twenty
dollars in her behalf.
I learned how very little some such people get accus-
tomed to live upon. Another told me that a dollar and a
quarter per week was all she spent for years upon nourish-
ment. "And what could you get for that?" I asked.
"What did I get? Why, all I wanted," she answered.
"I brought my living down to a science. On Sunday I
ate meat. On Monday, I ate cereals. On Tuesday,
vegetables. On Wednesday, nuts and fruits. Thursday,
biscuits and milk. Friday, bread and fish. Saturday,
bread and jam, and cocoa. So you see, in the course of
a week, I had had a little of everything."
MARY FISHER HOME 25
AN AGED JOURNALIST.
George William Curtis knew an aged journalist, in
very needy circumstances, who had lost his grip on the
New York Times, where he had been employed for many
years, and he spent a winter with us.
"Your shoes are very old," I said to him one day, "I
must get you a new pair."
"You needn't go to that expense," he answered, "give
me thirty-five cents and I'll come back to you well shod."
At dinner time he appeared with a very decent pair of
gaiters, saying, "I exchanged my old shoes and twenty-
five cents for these. There are places on the East Side
where they make a business of this sort of trade."
ONE OF THE ROGUES.
One cold winter day, a young man came to our base-
ment door, and asked if we could give him some work —
he was willing to do anything. He had a letter from
some clergyman who said that he had belonged to some
opera troupe, and was stranded in the city. His neat
appearance and intelligence interested me, and I took
him in. I found he knew considerable about marketing,
and he often went errands for me. One day he said to
me, "I don't want to deceive you, I will be frank with
you. I have been under a cloud ; I have been in prison,,
but don't be afraid to trust me, I assure you it was not
for any dishonesty — it was called a misdemeanor."
For some time he did my errands, for he was a very
good caterer, and seemed to know where to find bar-
gains, and the goods were always sent home C. O. D.
But one day, I gave him a five-dollar gold piece, and
my valise to bring some wares from the market. It was
36 THE STORY OF THE
Saturday. That night he did not return. In the morn-
ing when the journalist came in to breakfast, he said —
"Well, your young man has cleaned me out ; your valise
accommodated all my wardrobe. Now, I have my idea
about him and when I come back, you will see whether
I am right."
He went out, and when he returned he said, "I found
his picture in the Rogues' Gallery."
Of course, we heard no more of him.
By the end of the winter, the journalist was completely
built up again, and was very anxious to get to work.
Some one told him of a wealthy butcher, somewhere in
New Jersey, who had retired from business, and had a
great desire to start a newspaper in the town, and he
had plenty of money to put into it. This was a chance
for our journalist, which he was glad to profit by, and I
heard it proved a success.
Often we were able to tide people over with rest and
nourishment until they were able to take up work again.
THE YOUNG POET.
"Can you give a young man something to do in re-
turn for a Home?" a lady once said to me. "It is one
of those difficult cases to handle, for he is proud, sensi-
tive, and poor, and one does not like to hurt his feelings."
I had heard of this young man, I had read the little
volume of poems which he had issued, and had been
pleased with them ; and I could understand how sensi-
tive he was about his poverty.
I had often had such cases come before me, so I wrote
to him in the same strain as I had sometimes written to
others. I told him I was looking for some one who
would come and live in the Home and do some writing
MARY FISHER HOME 27
occasionally, and that I could not afford to pay a salary
He came that very evening with his few belongings.
I saw at once that the ravages of consumption had al-
ready begun their work, and that lack of nutrition was
probably the principal cause.
As we became better acquainted, he was less reserved
and reticent. I learned that he had half-starved himself
to save money enough to publish his first book of poems.
Like all young writers, he thought if he once got before
the public his future was made. He sent a copy of the
book to various publications, hoping to see a review of
his poems, but none came. He sent a copy to the poets
— Stedman, Morris, Markham and others, who read his
work with pleasure, were glad to make his acquaintance,
and kindly introduced him into the drawing rooms of
some of the most cultured people. When they sat down
to supper it was often the best meal he had eaten in a
At these evening coteries he would often read some
of his new poems — for he was a prolific writer — which
were always received with marked applause, which was
very gratifying. But his poems did not sell, and he
finally became very despondent. His wardrobe had be-
come very shabby, but he had no money to purchase any
better, and so he could no longer accept the invitations
to the evening parties.
One of the ladies who believed that she saw in him a
rising poet, said she could not get him out of her mind,
and she took a great deal of trouble to look him up, and
write to me about him. As time went on, his cough be-
came worse, and he grew weaker and weaker until the
28 THE STORY OF THE
Among his papers we found the address of an aunt
of his, who seemed to be a woman well-to-do, and we
informed her of his death. She came, and made arrange-
ments for his funeral ; she was apparently an unsym-
pathetic and hard-hearted woman. When the young min-
ister had concluded the service, and the undertaker was
removing the remains, she said :
"Why do such poor fellows persist in writing books,
when they can't make a living, he had better be a car-
penter or a plumber, and leave the rich men to write
books. He couldn't sell his poems. What was the use
of writing them ?"
The young minister smiled and added, "But it would
hardly do for us to depend only on our rich men for our
Never shall I forget a young woman of about thirty-
five — an excellent pianist, at one time a successful
teacher, but finally a cripple, and entirely without means
or friends to help her. I was so glad that we had a home
to offer her. She had some selfish cousins, who lived in
an old mansion in Connecticut, that had belonged to her
grandfather. "Never let her have any money," they said
to me, "for if you do, she will be travelling to us, and we
cannot have her."
One day I found her crying pitifully. "Grandpa left
that place to all of us," she said, "and I have as much
right to be there as any of them. I do so want to spend
a little of the summer under those lovely old trees that
my grandpa planted. If I could once get there, they
would not dare turn me away." So we managed it that
MARY FISHER HOME 29
she should have her wish, and started her off — to sit un-
der the beautiful trees of her childhood. But for a short
time only, in the course of a month, her gentle spirit was
called to the better land.
DIFFICULTIES OF THE WORK.
But soon we needed larger accommodations, and moved
from Brooklyn to St. Ann's Avenue in the Bronx. Not-
withstanding the work was so interesting, to sustain the
Home was a great struggle — especially on account of
nursing the sick — and the dread of falling into debt often
hung like a pall over me. Sometimes I was told "You
should get prominent women on your Board of Managers
— wealthy women whose names are known, and you
should get a banker for your treasurer." And often I
sat till midnight writing letters to prominent people, but
without success. All begged to be excused, pleading
they had no time — some kindly sent a contribution. Mr.
Percy Pyne, for instance, enclosed in his letter, a check
for one hundred dollars.
Another trouble confronted me. We found that the
name, "Home-Hotel," was misleading, and we were ad-
vised to change it. This cost us eighty dollars for court
fees, tho Mr. Coudert gave his services. The faithful
ones, who worked with us, did all in their power, but
many a time I kept my anxiety to myself for fear of dis-
couraging them, and it was no small burden to carry the
At one of our meetings, when I was rejoicing over the
subscription of fifty dollars from a new member, one of
the ladies rose and said — "Oh, if you intend to bring that
person among us, I for one will drop out, for she is a
woman with a history."
30 THE STORY OF THE
At another time a very prominent lady attacked me
with — "You should be more careful as to the people you
take into your home. I understand that you have old
Mr. S. I heard of him years ago. He left his good
wife and little children to starve while he spent his sub-
stance in riotous living. What if he has been a genius,
and given his quota of art to the world ! He was a de-
cidedly bad man."
I reflected a moment, I had heard of this man's past,
and finally I answered, "But what of the Good Samari-
tan. He didn't want to know the character of the man
that fell among thieves — that same man, for all we know,
may have been leaving his wife, or he may have been
fleeing from justice for robbing his village. However,
the Good Samaritan pitied him. Does anyone vote that
this man be turned away?" I asked. There was a dead
Years afterwards, an old lady had a Christmas tree in
her room sent in by her grandchildren, and she invited
everyone in the home to come and see it and partake of
the candies that were provided.
In the dusk of the evning, when all had departed, the
old lady saw this old man steal in and stand before the
little Christmas tree, while the tears rolled down his
Who can tell what memories of past years came up
before him, of wife and children and home, as he gazed
upon that little memento of bygone days. And I re-
member another who was said to have had a history,
who used to say, "Pardon me for being late to breakfast.
I have such wretched nights, I cannot sleep."
MARY FISHER HOME 31
THE KICKS OF THE UNGRATEFUL.
Certainly it often happened that those who received
the most from us were the least appreciative, while those
who received so very little were the most grateful, and
during the vista of years, have always sent us their small
annual contribution from their meager earnings. I was
mentioning this to an old gentleman one day, when he
said, "Ah, yes, but never get discouraged. I have re-
ceived more kicks for the kind things that I have done
than I ever did for the unkind."
Often I was confronted with the pitiful condition of
old people who, for some reason or other, could not
harmonize with son-in-law or daughter-in-law, although
they were not without means — it seemed that no one
wanted them. Several times we took charge of such a
one, for what they could afford to pay.
Often there were two sides to the story.
Once a young man said, "My old grandmother is such
a terrible crank that I can't burden my young wife with
her. She would wear her life out — and mine too."
We received the old lady. She came very unwillingly.
Her son brought her, but she was angry and would not
kiss him good-bye.
In the morning I found her crying in the parlor, and
one of the old gentlemen seemed concerned about her,
and asked what she was crying about, saying, "Are you
"111?" she answered, snappishly, "I've had enough to
make me ill, I have lost my son."
"When did he die?"
"He didn't die ; he was stolen from me."
"Indeed? Who stole him?"
32 THE STORY OF THE
"A chit of a girl came between him and me, and my
heart is broken. I've been such a good Mother to him.
I did everything for him. I denied myself to buy him
things. When he was a little fellow, I bought him a
hobby horse and a goat carriage, and this is my reward,
after all that I've done for him."
"But why did you do this ?"
"Why did I? Why shouldn't I ? Couldn't I do as I
liked with my own child, and my own money? It was
the greatest pleasure in life to me, and he was always
so fond of me, till he married that horrid girl, and
brought her home, and expects me to take second place.
And I won't do it. Just think of it! He'll sit at his
supper and say to her, 'These biscuits are splendid, dear,'
right before me — when her cooking isn't fit to eat. And
he'll say he enjoys it ! What an insult to me ! And one
day she said, 'One of us must go. I can't live with you
any longer,' and I only found fault when I saw fit — but
he's fool enough to seem so happy with her, and loves
her as much as he used to love me. Yes, after all these
years, this is my reward."
"But, perhaps, cnadam, you have had a good reward
for all you have done for your son. Let us go back to
the hobby horse and the goat carriage. You said it gave
you great pleasure to see him enjoy them, and it made
you very happy, so that all that you spent was repaid
you a hundredfold. The memory of it can live with you
as long as you live and yet you deny him the satisfaction
of a wife and a home. I think, madam, that you are a
most selfish and ungrateful mother." And he left the
Well, I remember that when some one referred to the
poem, "Over the Hill to the Poorhouse," a young lady
MARY FISHER HOME 33
remarked, "I do believe that old woman was so disagree-
able that none of her children could live with her."
One of the faithful managers of St. Luke's Home once
said to me : "It is a pleasure to take care of most of the
old ladies in our Home, but, of course, there are excep-
tions. One dear old lady is constantly annoyed by her
next-door neighbor, who insists upon going to her room,
and won't give her any rest. The troublesome one sus-
pects that we will call her to account when our commit-
tee meets, and she always contrives to be out on that
Such old people are like children, but we can punish
children, and we can't punish the old people.
Applicants began to press upon us, and we took the
lease of a house at Fordham, to accommodate the over-
It was at this time that Mrs. M. Fay Peirce, our Vice-
President, was much interested in the rescue of the Poe
Cottage in Fordham, and gave interesting readings from
the poet's works. Of her admirable work we shall speak
THE WONDERFUL CLOCK.
Among the peculiar people who drifted to our Home
about this time was a lady who owned a remarkable
clock. The maker of it had devoted many years to its
construction, with the hope that some Cathedral on the
American continent would purchase it. But the oppor-
tunity did not offer itself, and it became an elephant on
Mrs. B. was the widow of a well-to-do business man,
a master mason, and she had many good friends among
34 THE STORY OF THE
the Freemasons. Her husband left her a nice little for-
tune, and they advised her to invest it carefully under
their direction, so that it should bring her in a comfort-
able living for the rest of her lifetime. But Mrs. B. had
a strong spirit for speculation, and she put her money
into this big clock.
She imagined that she had found a big bonanza, and
that she would be able to dispose of it to great advan-
tage. Her idea was that Congress would purchase it
for the Capitol. But Washington did not want it, and
she soon began to feel the pressure of poverty.
The clock was on exhibition for a time, and when that
was over she was puzzled to know what to do with it. It
was of such an immense height that very few places
could accommodate it.
However, Mr. Joseph Lester, whose place was on
Broadway opposite Clinton Place, took pity on the clock,
and gave it house-room. It was there that I saw it.
Certainly it was a wonderful clock. It not only told
the times and the seasons, but the figures of the twelve
apostles came out to greet you while it chimed the hours.
But it did not sell. However, Mrs. B. was not a
woman to give up hope, for this clock was said to be sur-
passed only by that famous one at the Strassburg
She now looked around for some one to make her a
loan on the clock, and finally found a lady who was (like
herself) very optimistic in regard to speculations, and
being delighted with the clock she loaned her a large
sum upon it, at a high rate of interest. Mrs. B. now
began to travel about, visiting prominent Freemasons in
various cities with a view to getting an introduction to
some Senator who would use his influence at Washing-
MARY FISHER HOME 35
ton in getting them to purchase the clock. But finally
her money was all gone, and she drifted into our Home.
She was not able to pay the interest on the mortgage
of the clock, and the lady who loaned the money soon
became desperate, for, like Mrs. B., she also had put her
income into this venture. She came to see me to talk
over the matter, and asked me what I thought of her
investment, and what I thought she could do about it.
Of course I could not give her any advice.
Also, a little gentleman called on me and told me that
he was an old friend of Mrs. B. and had tried to help
her. And that it was he who had taken in the money
at the door when the clock was on exhibition, and that
it had cost so much to transport it from one place to
another, that it had eaten up all the profits of the exhibi-
tion, and that Mrs. B. hadn't enough money left to pay
him the few dollars she had promised him for his
Mr. Lester had now moved up town, and the clock
had to go into storage — having been taken apart on ac-
count of its immense size, and it was fast eating itself
up in storage fees.
The Freemasons used every endeavor to urge Mrs. B.
to go into the Freemasons' Home, but her restlessness
would not allow of this, and she used to beg a few dollars
from one mason and another to enable her to go about,
still hoping to do something with her big clock.
On one of these occasions, she was away longer than
usual, and when I inquired about her, no one could give
me any information of her. So I never heard what be-
came of the big clock.
36 THE STORY OF THE
In a few years, all the various professions had been
represented in our Home. Some had sunk into oblivion
and didn't wish their friends to know where they were.
I learned how sharp and keen had been the struggle of
life to the many. Also I saw that many had started out
with bright prospects and the highest ideals, but their
efforts had missed of achievement, and their lives had
been failures — and yet, perhaps, not all failures, for often
the output of a noble effort is more creditable than some
successes, and it may be that for all we know their work
may be counted as worthy a place among the immortals.
But some of our guests were cranks indeed. One old
lady persisted in disturbing everyone in her part of the
house at five o'clock in the 'morning by singing hymns
in a high, shrill soprano. She had edited the first
woman's magazine that had been published in this coun-
try, and was eighty years of age.
A LEARNED BOTANIST.
An old lady — a teacher and writer, whose published
work had made her known at home and abroad for
twenty years — used to make a sojourn with us every
now and then, whenever her purse strings drew her
towards us. She was a remarkably fine classic scholar,
was now quite aged, and had lost somewhat of her men-
tal poise, which rendered her eccentric, egotistical, and
overbearing. Her great delight was in giving lectures,
especially in botany — her great and favorite subject. To
give our household a lecture seemed to be her supreme
desire, and I decided to gratify her if possible.
MARY FISHER HOME 37
After considerable urging and persuading, I managed
to get together an audience for the first lecture — there
were to be three in all.
It was a very warm summer, and all felt that they
were doing penance by spending the evening sitting un-
der the bright chandeliers, while she exhibited her speci-
mens and discoursed upon her favorite theme. The
second lecture was not so well attended, and when it
came to the third, the audience was sparse indeed. But
her zeal never flagged, and, to the surprise of all, every-
one who had attended was taxed with a bill of five dol-
lars, and as no one had any money, we were given to
understand that we were a set of ingrates who would
be to her everlastingly indebted.
A REMARKABLE INTELLECT.
One sultry summer day, a peculiar-looking old lady pre-
sented herself at our door. She had come from Kentucky,
had very little money, and had begged part of the way.
She looked travel-worn indeed. An old bag was strapped
over her shoulders. Her short skirt and cotton umbrella
reminded me of pictures of Alpine climbers with their
alpenstocks. I had heard of her literary work of a past
generation, and had received some intelligent letters
from her, but was unprepared to meet such a grotesque-
looking figure. She hadn't been long with us when she
began to write to prominent wealthy people, abusing
them for not making such use of their means as she
thought they should. Her letters were so attractive, as
she gave a long history of her past life, that several of
them brought responses to her appeals for help. One
lady sent her tickets for an excursion to the seashore
once a week, where a popular band played, and luncheon
38 THE STORY OF THE
was provided at the hotel. She went only once, then
returned the tickets saying that the clubwomen did not
give her proper recognition.
Another lady wrote her, "I think that we don't under-
stand each other; come to my house to luncheon, and
we will talk matters over." When she returned she said,
"Such a spread for such a rich woman ; she ought to be
ashamed. Steak so tough I couldn't eat it."
"But then you haven't any teeth," I answered.
"Well, perhaps that was it," she said. "However, she
asked me what I wanted her to do for me, and I told
her that I wanted to have a little home of my own, and
that if she could let me have a monthly allowance, I
would take a little flat."
Now, this lady was going away for the summer, and
she sent her a check for three months. But the old lady
couldn't take care of money, and before the first month
was out, the whole three months' stipend was gone. So
she came back to us, much to my regret, for she de-
manded green vegetables for her breakfast, and was
always late to her meals. But she was a remarkable old
lady, and the accounts that she used to give of her in-
terviews with people were truly interesting. Once a lady
paid for her to spend a month at a country boarding
place ; she stayed a few days and then returned to write
letters of condemnation to her patroness, and to the
boarding house, which was not run according to her
idea. Her next move was to pass the civil service exam-
ination, and so well was she equipped, that it was sur-
prising in a woman of seventy-two years, and they gave
her a place in the post-office at Washington.
For a while, all went well. But the spirit of antago-
nism returned, and her dictatorial aggressiveness and ac-
tive pen began to attack those in high places, and she
MARY FISHER HOME 39
was put out. For the first time, she showed some re-
gret at her conduct. I told her that our Home had also
come under the lash of her tongue, and that her ingrati-
tude had surprised and hurt me. "Well," she said, "I
am always doing these things, and then I am sorry after-
An old German professor — who had been the teacher
of the wife of one of our ex-presidents, and who wrote
me that she remembered him with a great deal of pleas-
ure^ — invested his savings of forty years in a farm which
in a short time proved an entire failure, and he came to
us penniless. He was fifteen years in our Home.
THE BROTHER AND SISTER.
A brother and sister had conducted a school in Brook-
lyn for many years. Finally, feeble health and the
weight of eighty years forced them to give up the strug-
gle. They passed sixteen happy years with us — the old
professor living to be ninety-six. The sister is still with
us in our Tenafly Home, has now been with us twenty-
THE PROTEGEE FROM ST. GEORGE'S.
At one time a singular case of jurisprudence came to
our notice through the St. George's Society. A Miss S.,
an English lady, came from London with letters from
well-known people, introducing her (as a teacher of
drawing and painting) to the Vanderbilts and Astors and
40 THE STORY OF THE
other prominent families. For a long time she had a
most prosperous career, and lived many years in a
first-class boarding house, and apparently, like many
others, lived up to her income and did not save anything
for her old age. However, the widow lady who kept
the house took a fancy to her, and promised to leave
property to her. But she died without a will, and a son
of the widow turned up. The lawyer who took charge
of the case told Miss S. that it was now hopeless, as the
son would claim his mother's estate. Miss S. was there-
fore thrown out of a home, and being without means
applied to St. George's Society for a passage to London.
While the arrangements were being made, the Society
boarded her at our Home. Then she left for England.
Some six months after, there came a ring at our bell,
and as I opened the door, to my great surprise, there
stood Miss S. The lawyer had sent for her, telling her
she had gained the case, and must come at once and
claim her property. The judge had decided that as the
son had neglected his mother, and had not come near
her for many years, and turned up only when she died,
that he didn't deserve her property, and there were many
guests in the boarding house who were witnesses to the
fact that she had promised to leave all that she possessed
to Miss S., and so it was accorded to her.
Another case drifted into our Home through a party
dying intestate. A lady took a little girl when only six
weeks old, and brought her up as her own daughter.
When she died, no will could be found, and a cousin
came forward and claimed the property. The judge de-
cided that as the widow had taken the child at such an
early age, she was the same to her as a daughter, and he
accorded her the property. However, the young lady
provided for the cousin as long as she lived, and al-
MARY FISHER HOME 41
though the latter professed great love and gratitude to
her face, whenever she met her, behind her back she
would vow vengeance, and threaten to open the case
again, which she never did.
A Miss H., an aged English actress, drifted into our
Home. "I'd rather not come to your table," she said,
"let me make my cup of tea in my own room, and if you
will allow me a dollar a week, it will get me all the food
I want — all I've been used to have for years, and I can-
not take any more." And this was true, she never ex-
ceeded the dollar, but I prevailed upon her to take Sun-
day's dinner with us, at which time she would entertain
us with reminiscences of her early life. She was the only
child of a well-to-do London merchant, but she had a
burning desire to go on the stage. Mr. and Mrs. Charles
Keene lived a few doors from them. It was impossible
for a beginner to get on the London boards, but Mr.
Keene gave her a note to a manager in Bath, saying "Give
this girl a few lines and oblige, yours truly, Charles
Keene." With this, Miss H. started off in high glee for
The first line assigned her was to say as she came on
the stage, "My lord, here's a letter for you." The re-
hearsal went off all right, but when Miss H. found herself
in front of a crowded house, with myriad eyes upon
her, her tongue seemed tied, and all she could get out
was, "My lul — lul — lul," but the actor quickly came to
the rescue, and in a few loud words covered the breech,
while she stole off to the dressing-room to cry herself
sick. When the performance was over, a young actress
came to her and said kindly, "Don't cry any more, I think
$2 THE STORY OF THE
they will give you another trial. Tomorrow's Sunday,
come and spend the day with me."
This young actress was Miss Braddon, the future nov-
elist. She was what they called the utility woman at this
theatre, because she could take so many different parts.
Miss H. spent a pleasant day with her ; she lived with her
mother, her father was a gentleman who had offended
his family by marrying beneath them ; he had died or
deserted them, his family did not recognize them, and
Miss Braddon's earnings had to support them both. She
saw her visitor looking at some parcels in brown paper,
on a shelf over her bed, and said, "Those are manuscripts
of books that I intend to write. I generally write a
little every day as ideas come to me."
A daughter of Leigh Hunt was also in this company,
and Miss H., who used to visit them afterwards, used to
be surprised and amused to see such a moderate supply
of food on the table for so many persons; it contrasted
so strongly with the bountiful table in her own home.
In time, she found herself in London, and came in
contact with Boucicault. When acting with him, he
would insist upon dictating her costume, and demanding
everything absolutely new, and the actresses looked upon
him as a tyrant. Afterwards, she came with a company
to New York, and acted with Lester Wallack.
When too old for the stage, she taught elocution to
society girls, and wrote short stories of the stage. Then
she fell sick, at which time the Actors' Fund took care of
her, but she found it difficult to pay her way, although
she had learned to live on so little. For many years she
had impoverished herself by trying to hold on to the fine
old furniture of her father's London house, and Mrs.
Keene used to say to her, "My dear, your sticks will be
your ruin." From time to time, the St. George's Society
assisted her, until she came into our Home.
MARY FISHER HOME 43
One day she said to me, "My wardrobe is worn out.
If I had a few suitable dresses and twenty-five dollars
to start with, I think I have a career before me, and
would not any longer be a burden to your Home." Now
for years it has been the custom of wealthy benevolent
women to send their cast-off garments to St. Barnabas
House, where they are sold to the poor for a mere baga-
telle. Sometimes, a beautiful evening dress that has cost
a hundred dollars or more is sold to an Italian woman
for a dollar. I knew of this, and went there and selected
a goodly supply of articles for Miss H., much to her de-
light, and with the twenty-five dollars she took up her
abode at Asbury Park and spent the summer in reciting
at the hotels and cottages, and made some friends. One
of them engaged her to remain in their cottage and take
care of their dogs until the next season.
The first winter was a long and severe one, and she
suffered much from the cold. But she was brave and
stood it out, thankful for a box of groceries and a bottle
of wine that we occasionally sent her. I have met her
in summer on the boardwalk in a pretty dress now wear-
ing out that had once graced some lady at Newport or
Lenox. She was fond of attending church, and in the
latter days of her life was kindly cared for by the ladies
of the Episcopal church at Asbury Park.
Mentioning the clothing sold at St. Barnabas House,
brings to my mind a little incident :
A young man had offended his family because he had
no taste for business, his violin was his idol which he
practiced with much zeal. There was something very
refined and spirituelle about him, and he was retiring and
rather reserved and timid at meeting strangers.
44 THE STORY OF THE
His mother, who was a widow, was very much like
him. However, she did all she could to help him in his
musical career. At one time his apparel was not fit to
appear in the house of a wealthy lady who had engaged
him to play at her evening party.
I gave his mother a note to the St. Barnabas House,
and the modest little lady was delighted to be able to
secure for a couple of dollars just what he needed, in-
cluding an overcoat which he said made him imagine
himself a millionaire every time he put it on.
One of the most troublesome cases that we had to deal
with was a young woman who had been a teacher in very
good standing, and who was introduced to us as being in
very poor health and in need of a rest.
She had evidently had a sort of upset through a love
affair. She discovered that the young man was intem-
perate, and so gave him up. Also, a gentleman whom
she seemed to respect very much, made her an offer, but
he was a great deal older, and she could not make up
her mind. He was very well-to-do, but she could not
overlook the disparity of age, and yet she didn't want to
give him up. This indecision had made her ill, and while
she was in our Home she received notice of his death.
This had a disastrous effect upon her. Her temper
became so violent at times, as to make her uncontrollable.
Her egotism was extreme. She took intense dislikes to
people in the Home, and they looked upon her as semi-
"It's a mercy she never married," one of the old ladies
used to say, "for there would have been the funeral of
one of them right off." At times she would be tractable
MARY FISHER HOME 45
and docile, and insist on helping me in various ways, but
the assistance was always spoiled by her irritability. We
were puzzled what to do with her.
She always talked of property that should come to her
in White Plains; her father had owned, she said, the
building belonging to the Eastern States Journal, and
that her lawyer was fighting her case in the courts. It
was her constant theme of conversation, and became her
From the way she talked of it, it seemed impossible to
doubt the truth of it. She was so sure of coming into
possession of this property, that she made her will, so
that in case of her death, this property would come to
the Home. To meet the expense of drawing up this
document, and also for other things she was in constant
need of, she depended on me for a succession of loans.
She went every week from Saturday to Monday to Ma-
maroneck, where she would call on her doctor. He
did not charge her anything, but I had to furnish the
money for her board, which was with an old friend of
her family, who were not willing to entertain her with-
out being paid for it. She had a married brother who
didn't do anything for her, and so she remained with
us year after year, always saying to me, "What you do
for me will all come back to you ; there is no doubt
She was very fond of good clothes, and as the seasons
came round would have violent fits of temper if she
could not renew her wardrobe. Finally I found these
loans too great a strain upon me ; also I began to doubt
the truth of her story. So one day I went to the court
house in White Plains, and found her lawyer. When
I made known my errand, he smiled and said, "My dear
woman, it is all a fabrication ; her mind is in ruins."
46 THE STORY OF THE
Not wanting to talk to her in person, I wrote a letter
telling her I could not continue the loans, and put it
under her door. To my surprise she met this matter in
a strangely philosophical attitude. She assumed the air
of an injured person, and became sarcastic. She applied
for a position in a country school and obtained it. As
soon as she was left to her own resources for money, she
could wake up and earn her living. But her egotism
was so extreme that it would not admit of a word of
gratitude for the Home that had taken care of her so
I have often felt that I deserved to be laughed at for
placing credence in her story; I should have investi-
gated it long before. But let us remember that peculiar
case of the Humberts in Paris, where the wise heads of
bankers and diplomats were for years deceived by a
woman ; and this instance is a sort of consolation to me.
A PHILANTHROPIST DECEIVED.
A gentleman asked us to receive into our Home a
Miss V., an authoress. I knew the lady, I had read
some of her books — she had made translations of the
best foreign literature. She had submitted to him the
manuscript of the first chapters of a work she was writ-
ing. He told me it was a marvel of cleverness — a poem
in blank verse, and he believed nothing better had been
written since "Paradise Lost." He urged her to finish
it by all means, and he would get it published, that there
was a fortune in it. She told him her mind was too dis-
turbed to allow her to write, as her means had run out,
MARY FISHER HOME 47
and she couldn't pay her board. Hence, his appeal to
us to take her free of charge, which we did. The book
was to take her three months to finish. I gave her one
of our best rooms. In less than a week, she came to me
and said, "I can't write a line here ; I must get back to
my old environment, where I started the work, the in-
spiration won't come to me anywhere else."
Her former abode was a first-class boarding-house on
Madison Avenue, where she had a top room at twelve
dollars a week. As this was over twenty years ago, when
boarding was not so high as now, this was an extrava-
gant price for one in her circumstances. However, Mr.
D. was so impressed with the merits of her work, and
so anxious to see it completed, that when she said she
could not do with less than two hundred and fifty dol-
lars, he finally wrote the check, saying that he could ill
afford to do so, and hoped it would soon be returned.
She was one of three sisters in the South, and used to
receive her portion of the income of the estate periodi-
cally, but she had no just value for money and was gen-
erally in debt. "Do look after her," Mr. D. said to me,
"and hurry her up with that work."
In a month, I called upon her. "How much have you
done?" I asked. She took out some manuscripts and
said, "Oh, you mean the old poem, don't you ? I haven't
written a line of it — an idea came to me and I began a
better one. Let me read it to you." It was a poem
in verse, a sort of epic she said. It was beautifully writ-
ten, its metre smooth and flowing and her command
of language — always her strong point — was apparent
throughout. But the subject matter was far-fetched
and outlandish. An unhappy woman wished to expiate
her sins by going to live alone in a desert, and her pen-
itence was so sincere, and her prayers to the Deity so
48 THE STORY OF THE
eloquent and earnest that the wild beasts listened to her
and never came near her. But the poem was not fin-
ished, so I never knew what became of this woman.
However, in four months, Mr. D. demanded the
manuscript completed or his money. As neither was
forthcoming, he seemed desperate, and determined to
prosecute her. She pleaded her own case so eloquently
and made her excuses so plausible, that the judge dis-
missed the case. This was evidently one of those cases
where the mind had lost the power of continuous work,
and would run off to something new.
A singular case presented itself, of an aged artist and
sculptor, a protege of Mr. D. Chester French, who said :
"This man has been a genius in his time."
One day when I went to his room, I counted seven
fine little sketches and begged him to finish one for me.
"Oh, no," he answered, "I'll paint you something much
better. Get me a canvas," mentioning a certain size. I
sent for the canvas at once. It was in his room for
years with only a background painted upon it, and never
A LESSON IN PRONUNCIATION.
An American gentleman who was an editor, lecturer,
and humorist, used to drift into our Home whenever he
was short of small change as he expressed it — and this
happened very often. He was one of those who could
be submerged for a time, and lost sight of, and then
bubble up again apparently none the worse for his bath.
Every now and then he would meet with what he called
a streak of luck, when some one wanted him to give a
MARY FISHER HOME 49
With a half-brother of the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher,
he had travelled around the world — they had together
published the first newspaper in China in the English
language. They made good money, but our friend was
extravagant, and Mr. Beecher dissolved company, I
presume he had found it an unprofitable partnership.
Our lecturer now wound his way home to New York
— calling at various seaport towns in foreign lands,
where English and Americans resided, and he often had
an opportunity to give one of his lectures upon China
and other countries. He always preferred work to idle-
ness, and he often did clerical work for me.
One evening, when he was writing out something for
me, he said, "I have often been complimented on my
oratory, on account of my good voice and my clear enun-
ciation, and one night my pride received a terrible slap —
a knock that I shall never forget. The audience was a
large and fashionable one, and when I stepped down
from the rostrum, several came around me to congratu-
late me on the success of the lecture, but one old gentle-
man called me aside and said with a twinkling in his eye,
as he lowered his voice — "But, my dear sir, you made an
awful slip-up when you were talking of the poor wretch
who was hanged — you said 'gallows,' and the right pro-
nunciation is 'gallus.' I felt awfully taken aback. I
couldn't have felt worse if they had kicked me out of
the town. I offered no protest, but went on shaking
hands, though I would like to have had the floor open
and swallow me up. That night, as soon as I got back
to my hotel, I couldn't go to bed till I had hunted up a
dictionary, and looked up the word gallows, and there
to my dismay I found that the old gentleman with the
twinkling eye — was right.
50 THE STORY OF THE
"I was asked to repeat the lecture, and I knew that this
same old gentleman would be sitting in the front seat,
anxious to hear what I would say when I came to that
sentence about the gallows. But I was determined that
he shouldn't have the satisfaction of triumphing over
me, so when I came to that part of my story I used the
word gibbet, and have stuck to that word ever since."
He confessed that his life had been a failure, because
he could not control his appetite for stimulants. The
last time he was with us (which was some three years
ago) he had spent his last few dollars trying to organize
a company for people to save a few dollars per week,
so that when the next big national exhibition was given,
they could each draw from the bank two hundred dol-
lars to take them to it. This is as near as I remember
the scheme. Some of the friends of his deceased wife
helped him occasionally, and finally he started out with
great expectations of the success of this new enterprise —
The Exhibition Company. He was to be the president.
"People smile when I present my plan to them," he said
to me, "but I am sure it's a go."
However, he was now an old man, and getting feeble,
and as I heard no more of him or this Exhibition com-
pany, we concluded that he had been called to another
I believe he was a perfectly honest man, and generous
to a fault — when he had it, but he never could take care
Mr. Nichols, of the Brooklyn Bureau of Charities,
asked me to take into our Home an old musician who
had been a violinist in Patti's orchestra. He was over
MARY FISHER HOME 51
ninety years old, and spoke very little English. He
had married a young Italian woman who had supposed
that he had money saved up. When she found he had
nothing, she turned him out, and he lived a while by
begging. He was a quiet, gentle old man, but had not
been accustomed to the bath, which rendered him some-
what troublesome to us.
At that time Madame Patti was in New York, and I
appealed to her to do something toward his support.
Her secretary said that Madame Patti was supporting
quite a colony of poor musicians in Wales, and that was
all she could do.
However, Mrs. Ditson, the wife of the music pub-
lisher, called to see me. She said that her father-in-law
had left seventy-five thousand dollars to be invested for
the benefit of poor musicians, and out of this fund she
contributed to our Home fifty dollars toward the sup-
port of the old violinist.
After a while the old gentleman became so very help-
less that he needed hospital care, and our doctor thought
it was best to place him in the Italian Hospital, where
they could talk to him in his own language. But he
was so unwilling to leave us, that nothing but the co-
operation of the Italian priest could accomplish this.
"But he is so angry with me," said the priest, "that
I am afraid he will not send for me when he is dying,
and that will be so bad for his soul."
However, we got him into a better temper by telling
him that perhaps he would get well and then he could
return to us.
The good old priest had wonderful patience with this
poor old man.
52 THE STORY OF THE
About this time two young medical students from the
Flower Hospital asked to come to our Home. One of
them was very pleasant and full of cheer, but everyone
remarked how gloomy and moody his companion was,
and one evening when it was very stormy, he was seen
going out with quite a burden under his arm.
"What is that, that he is carrying?" asked some one
who was looking out of the window. "Ah, that is his
secret," said an old gentleman who had won the confi-
dence of this morose-looking young man. "That is his
trombone. He has to play that in the evening in order
to pay Miss Fisher the four dollars a week for his board.
That other merry fellow receives every month a nice little
pink cheque from some lady-love, whether mother, sis-
ter or sweetheart, I do not know, but this is the secret
of cheerfulness, and his merry moods."
In due time, these young men graduated and went
their way. We saw no more of them.
One day, the old gentleman, who was their friend,
showed us at the dinner table, the wedding cards of the
merry young doctor, and leaning over to me, he whis-
pered, "Just as I suspected, the lady's name is the same
as that which used to appear on those little pink cheques
that used to make him so happy."
THE YOUNG PALMIST.
One of the curiosities of our Home was the son of an
Episcopal clergyman who had been expelled from col-
lege. An older brother, who was the main bread-winner
of the family, wouldn't have him at home, and he had
MARY FISHER HOME 53
turned him out. His mother was in great distress about
him, and she thought that perhaps I could find him
something to do in our Home. I had known this lady
for some time ; she was the almoner of one of the Van-
derbilts, who kept her supplied with the necessary means
for various charities, and she always spent one day a
week among the sick patients of the poorhouse on the
Island, supplying them with delicacies and other necessi-
ties for their comfort. Sometimes she saw abuses which
she exposed, and she often labored there under difficul-
ties, but still she worked on, and gave faithful service
in the good cause.
I saw how anxious she was about this son of hers ;
she said she believed that cigarettes had been his ruin,
as they had dulled his brain, and prevented him from
studying; so, although I expected very little helpful
service from this young man, for her sake I decided to
give him a trial. I fully expected to find this ne'er-do-
well a lazy fellow.
But, to my surprise, he proved to be quite the con-
trary. He was wonderfully handy with various kinds of
tools, and always anxious for something to do, and was
very jolly and good-natured in offering help to any one.
If he smoked cigarettes, he never did it when I could
see him. When he could find nothing else to do, I some-
times found him entertaining some lonely sick old man
by reading and talking to him.
I never saw him reading but one book, and this was
a work on palmistry, and that would be when we were
sitting together in the evening, some with sewing, read-
ing, or card-playing.
He had a number of little papers or charts, and I
asked him what they were, and when he showed them
to me I found they were drawings of various hands. He
54 THE STORY OF THE
pointed out all the various lines, saying, "I suppose you
know that no two hands are alike — just the same as no
two feet are alike, the lines all tell something."
"Can you read palms?" said one of the ladies.
"Of course I can," he answered.
That evening he read several palms. The next morn-
ing at the breakfast table one of the guests whispered
"There is something uncanny and very curious about
that young man, Mr. Francis. He doesn't pretend to
tell the future, but he does tell you things of your past
life, which have long been forgotten, by some way or
other he brings it all up to you. Of course I told him
that it was all nonsense, and I laughed at it, but I could
see that he firmly believed that he was telling me the
truth. And so he was."
One evening, as we sat together, one of the guests,
a woman of about sixty, said to him, "I wish you would
read my palm; you see my hand is all full of lines, and
wrinkles. What can you see there?" He leaned over it,
and spent some time talking to her.
A few days after that she remarked to me: "When
that young Francis was reading my hand, this is what
he said to me : 'At one time you had some new friends
who opened to you a new religion, which interested you
at the time. They did not come to you by water; they
came an overland route of three thousand miles.' I told
him I had never been interested in any new religion,
that I would have thought it a disgrace — that I had al-
ways been staunch to the faith of my forefathers. But
he was very positive, and said, 'But you certainly did;
I am sure of it.' I laughed and told him it was all non-
sense, and bade him good night.
MARY FISHER HOME 55
That was four days ago, and lately, only yesterday,
there dawned upon me this remembrance. It must be
forty years ago. I was boarding in the same house with
two gentlemen, a father and son; the latter had come
East to study law. He and I were often thrown to-
gether, and we became very intimate. I admired the
young man very much ; I liked him better than any other
that I had met, there was so much that was frank and
ingenuous in his nature, and he told me of his college
life in Salt Lake city."
I fairly jumped, saying, "Oh, dear, you must have
been among the Mormons."
"But didn't you know we were Mormons?" he asked.
"I thought my father had told you ; he boarded here be-
fore I came."
It was a great shock to me ; I knew he had come from
some part of the West, but I did not know where. I
found that his father was one of the Mormon mission-
aries, that he had come to New York to meet a ship full
of those deluded people whom they had gathered in
various parts of Europe — mostly of the peasant class.
The young man said to me, "You see I have been
born a Mormon, and I can tell you all about us." He told
me how earnestly they were working to get Utah ad-
mitted as a state — that his father had three wives, that
each wife had her own home, that his mother was the
first wife and that the children of each wife took for
their middle name the name of the mother. He gave
me a copy of the Mormon Bible, called the book of
Mormon, and explained that it had been written under
curious inspiration ; also he gave me the "Life of Joseph
Smith," the first Mormon and martyr, who sacrificed his
life during those massacres in Missouri when the Gen-
tiles and the Mormons waged war upon each other.
56 THE STORY OF THE
Then they had a large book of Covenants, but, strange
to say, he didn't seem to know anything of that terrible
Mountain Meadow Massacre, which is a fact in our his-
tory. The Mormons had been very careful to keep this
out of their records. "I never heard of it," he said.
They published a paper which he received regularly and
used to give it to me to read.
At last his father took his company on to Utah, leav-
ing the son behind to pursue his legal studies. I saw
him once after that, and that was to say good-bye to
him. "I suppose you will some day be like your father
with two or three wives,'' I remarked, and he answered,
"It is my duty to take a second wife as- soon as I can
support another, and so on. It will depend entirely how
many I can afford to support."
"I expect it doesn't cost very much to do that," I said,
"for it is a pastoral country, and they all work."
"That was the last I saw of my Mormon friends. It
is now some forty years ago, and they had gone so en-
tirely out of my life, that it is not strange that I could
not remember until some circumstances occurred to re-
fresh my memory."
Sometimes we gave a fair for the benefit of the Home,
and we found young Francis very useful. He was so
active and willing to do anything to help us. He used
to read palms, and he so amused some of the ladies that
they would hire his services when they gave an evening
party, and made his palm-reading part of the entertain-
ment of the evening. For this he always received ten
dollars, and sometimes more. He had the well-bred
manner of the gentleman, was quite good-looking, al-
ways dressed neatly, and he always made friends.
This was when our Home was in St. Ann's Avenue,
and the Presbyterians were building a church in our
MARY FISHER HOME 57
neighborhood. The young minister used to come to
us on Saturday, and spend over Sunday with us. At
one time they gave a bazaar to raise a fund for the fur-
nishing of the church, and many of us attended it.
Young Francis devoted much time in getting it ready.
He furnished the booths and arranged things with very
good taste ; he fitted up an alcove bearing the sign "palms
read, fifty cents."
The minister brought his young wife, whom we had
never seen, and her sister, a delicate-looking young
woman who expressed herself much pleased with the
affair, and her sister said to her, "Now, Carrie, you must
have your fortune told — come and have your palm read ;
every fifty cents is a help you know." And she brought
her sister to Francis who was dressed up for the occasion
in full Oriental style.
There was a good deal of laughing as the young lady
gave her hand to the palmist, with her sister sitting beside
her. "I am going to stay and hear what it is like," she
Now I was sitting at the door taking the money, and I
could not hear what the palmist said, even if I had wished
to do so. But he seemed to tell her quite a good deal.
Suddenly the young lady jumped up, tried to draw her
hand away and said, "Oh, don't! That's enough, please
I looked in to see what was the matter, and saw the
elder woman with her arms thrown around the sister
while she said, "Oh, Carrie, is that true? Were you
there? Did you really do that?"
There was only a sob for the answer, as she led her
sister away. The people were now beginning to crowd
in. The minister's wife was soon absorbed by her many
58 THE STORY OF THE
friends, and when I looked for Miss Caroline I found her
in a quiet corner looking very disconsolate.
"I am afraid you are not enjoying this very much," I
said, "and you look cold, it is such a very severe frost
tonight ; perhaps you took a chill, let me get you a cup
of something warm."
"Oh, no, it was not that," she whispered, "but that
dreadful young man told so much about me that I didn't
want my sister to know. If I could only have laughed
it off, it would have been all right, she would have
thought it nonsense, but you see I was so shocked — I was
so unprepared to hear it, that I gave myself away. Now
my sister will be asking me all sorts of questions."
This quite spoiled our evening, for I felt very sorry
for the young lady, and I told Francis how much I re-
gretted it. He opened his eyes wide, saying, "Well, that's
just how it is, but in future I shall insist upon our being
alone. But as they were sisters I thought it didn't mat-
A SHORT LIFE LINE.
I am giving these little facts for what they may be
worth. Near our Home was the large handsome labora-
tory of Scheiffelin & Co., and one of the chemists, a
young Scotchman, was one of our guests. He was a
splendid specimen of young manhood, with a fine
physique, and very bright and intelligent. He was a
very jolly young fellow, and often amused us with his
anecdotes and stories. Now Francis was always very
glad of a new hand to examine, and one evening said to
"What a strong paw that is of yours ; let us take a
look at it. The young man laughed, and held out his
hand. Now Francis had a very impulsive, spontaneous
MARY FISHER HOME 59
way of speaking when an idea occurred to him, he spoke
out at once, without apparently giving himself any time
to consider. He studied the lines of the hand that he
held for a little while, then suddenly he burst out, "Oh,
you can't make old bones, your life line is cut right short
near the beginning." The young Scotchman laughed,
and made some comical remark, which caused others to
join in the laughter.
Then there was a game at whist, and no more was
thought about it. Some three weeks after, the young
chemist did not come down to breakfast on the Monday
morning. As he was in the habit of spending Sunday
out of town we supposed that he had gone straight from
his train to the laboratory, but later in the day one of the
chemists came to inquire about him, thinking that he was
ill. They burst open the door of his room, and found
him sitting on the bed — dead.
He had died of heart disease, while in the process of
making his toilet.
The sudden death of the young chemist, and the cir-
cumstances connected with it, made a deep impression
upon every one.
As we sat together in the evening, several made some
reference to it. "That prediction of the palmist was
wonderful," said one of them. An old gentleman whom
they called the philosopher only smiled, "I see nothing
wonderful in it," and turning round from the chess-
board where he was playing, he continued, "It is very
probable that the young chemist knew he had a weak
heart; he may have been warned that he might drop off
at any time. This may have been in his mind when he
gave his hand to Francis, and it was simply a matter of
mind-reading, no matter by what name you call it. Also
in the case of that young lady at the fair. Her recent
6o THE STORY OF THE
experiences had made a marked impression upon her
mind, and that also was a case of mental telegraphy or
THE WIDOW'S SON.
Now, in my opinion, the fact that Francis could delve
down into the memory of that lady with her Mormon
experience, is the most wonderful of all. Let me tell you
a story which has lately occurred to me which bears upon
A widow lady had an only child, a bright, good-looking
boy, and it was her greatest anxiety that he should have
a good education and be worthy his father's name, but
he could not learn his school lessons. Though intelligent
in other respects, and not at all a lazy boy, he was always
at the foot of his class. Even the multiplication table
was a very uncertain quantity with him. Whatever' he
learned he seemed to forget five minutes afterwards.
His mother worked over him unceasingly, and devoted
all her spare time to him, going over every lesson with
him. Toward the end of the school term the schoolmas-
ter came to her with a suggestion.
"It seems to me that your boy Charlie could learn this
poem, and recite it when we have our closing exercises.
He has such a splendid voice, and such a clear enuncia-
tion, and he would make such a fine showing on our
platform if only he could learn it."
The widow was so gratified with these words that she
was tempted to say she thought Charlie might be able
to recite the poem. He had just two weeks to learn it.
Day after day she labored with him, offering him a re-
ward if he succeeded and a punishment if he failed, but
all to no purpose, Charlie could not learn the poem. If
he got one verse right today, by the time he had learned
MARY FISHER HOME 61
the next he had forgotten it. Finally, one night, in her
agony of disappointment, she fell on her knees, and gave
out a great cry, and sank weeping on the floor. The boy
had never seen his mother cry before ; it was a shock to
him and he cried long and pitifully.
When his mother had spent her tears, she raised her-
self exhausted, and said, "Now go to bed." She went to
her room, but it was late before she retired, and before
she put out her light she went into the little room adjoin-
ing to see if Charlie was tucked up for the night. To
her astonishment he was sitting on the bed half un-
dressed, his eyes wide open, and throwing his arms
around her he said, "Oh, mother, I know it all now, I
can say every word of it." He repeated the poem with-
out a mistake, and then pieces of history which he had
tried to learn but had failed on, and rules in grammar,
and portions of geography lessons, all poured from him
now as though his pent-up memory was finding relief.
Now how would you explain that?
Elizabeth Bisland advances the idea that there are
forces within and without us that we know not of, be-
cause our faculties are as yet too undeveloped to recog-
nize them. Some are born with a keener mentality, more
vital force than others, their receptive organs are more
alive and alert. We are told that every event of our
lives is engraved on the memory, that nothing is lost — it
may be forgotten for years, but it is there. Think what
a keen ear some little children have for music, while
there are intelligent men with hearing so dull that they
have never been able to whistle a tune.
As to the little boy, some force in the agonized pain of
the mother met a receptive chord in the mind of the child
and woke up the images in the storehouse of memory.
62 THE STORY OF THE
As the ages roll on, it is possible that there will be won-
derful developments. What did we know of wireless
some years ago? We have evidence that clairvoyance is
a fact and not a fancy, and why should there not be clair-
audience as well?
One of the guests, a lady who had been listening in
silence now remarked — "This reminds me that we read
in the life of Charlotte Bronte that she declared she once
heard a voice come to her from a distance of many miles,
and when one of her friends doubted the truth of it she
said most earnestly, "but indeed it really did happen
"I quite believe it," said our philosopher.
a prisoner's friend.
The Charity Organization Society asked us to take
into our Home an old lady, as a gentleman whom they
knew would guarantee fifteen dollars per month for her
support. She had a quantity of white hair and we always
called her Mrs. White.
She told me that her son was in prison. He had robbed
his employer, who was a kind man; he had done a great
deal for the youth, but it was not the first time that he
had been dishonest, and while he thought best to have
him convicted, he was willing to take care of his old
mother, and it was he who was going to pay her board.
A very stylish-looking middle-aged lady used to come
to see Mrs. White, and this she told me was Mrs. Moli-
neux, whose son was also in prison.
At this time there was a celebrated poisoning case be-
fore the courts. Roland B. Molineux, who was tried for
the murder of Mrs. Katharine Adams, was in Sing Sing.
Mrs. White said that her boy and young Molineux had
become great friends and that young White had asked
MARY FISHER HOME 63
Mrs. Molineux to call at our Home to see his mother, and
that Roland Molineux was writing a book about his prison
life, which his mother would publish — that her son was
the one who was writing the book, although young Moli-
neux was giving him the incidents, and would call him-
self the author and would give him no credit for it.
Some of the guests complained that whenever Mrs.
White visited in their rooms they missed some little ar-
ticle which was of value to them, and it occurred to me
that she might be a kleptomaniac. One lady missed a
silver keepsake and she worried considerably ; and in or-
der to recover it, if possible, I spoke privately to Mrs.
White about this loss, inquiring, "Will you allow me to
look in your trunk?"
"Certainly," she said very willingly, and immediately
unlocked her trunk.
But what was my surprise to find that it contained
over one hundred little parcels, all tied up so tightly and
neatly, that it would 1 have occupied too much of my time
to search for the missing article. She saw how surprised
I was at such a trunk full of tied-up articles. "I always
keep my things like that," she said, with a little laugh.
"You may open them all if you like."
But I knew it was impossible, so I did not attempt it,
and had to give her the benefit of the doubt.
But the money for Mrs. White's support which was to
come to us through the Charity Organization Society
stopped coming. Dr. Divine, the secretary, wrote me
that the gentleman had left New York and they did not
know where to find him. Mrs. White seemed to regret
this very much, and she told me that she had another son
in the State of Maine, and she gave me his address. I
wrote to him, and he arranged to come to take his
mother home with him, which he did. But the loss of
64 THE STORY OF THE
the money which was now over one hundred dollars was
a great disappointment, and it worried me.
Knowing that Mrs. White's benefactor was a very kind
gentleman who would not wish me to lose the money he
had promised for her support, I employed a collector to
look him up, and after some delay the money came all
right. The gentleman was surprised that the Charity
Organization Society had not taken the trouble to get a
letter forwarded to him. However, the money was con-
siderably depleted by the collector's fee and travelling
We would suppose that a corporation like the Charity
Organization Society, equipped with so many agents and
clerks, would be able to do business on a better basis,
for this was certainly a very slipshod affair.
A POLISH PHYSICIAN.
One of the most peculiar and troublesome of our old
men was an aged Polish doctor, who, like many an-
other, had worn out all his friends, and exhausted all his
resources before he consented to go into a Home.
He had posed as a converted Jew, and for all we know
may have been sincere in his change of religious faith.
However, on account of his extreme poverty, he was
glad to work them for all they were worth, one denomi-
nation after another, and each church claimed the credit
of having converted the aged Hebrew to their particular
belief. Each of them saw the necessity of getting him
into some Home, which he obstinately refused to con-
sider, and finally they all gave him up as a hopeless case.
MARY FISHER HOME 65
His last venture was to interest a band of ladies who
had formed a society of Spiritualists. According to his
own story, one day, while taking a walk, he wandered
into a hall to rest, and found himself at a Spiritualistic
seance. The medium came to him, and told him that
she was instructed to place a harp before him, which
she did, and she ordered him to play something upon it.
He told her that he had never played any instrument in
his life. However, they told him to put his arms around
the harp, which he did, and immediately the harp played
the national airs of Poland, his native country. He was
weak and tired, and hungry, and as the harp went on
playing, he sat and wept. He told me that the music
brought back to his mind the years of long ago, when
he was the only child of well-to-do parents, who gave
him every advantage in their power, sent him to two
colleges, and afterward furnished him with money by
which he travelled the world over, until it was nearly all
gone, and then he settled down in the poor neighbor-
hood of the Polish Jews, on the East side of New York
When these ladies saw the poor old man weeping,
as he sat clinging to the harp, their kind hearts were
touched, and they took him at once into their keeping.
When they had investigated his story, they concluded
that he had a claim upon our Home, and they came to
see me about it. I went to see him ; he was living in a
rear building, in a little dark room where he was keep-
ing house after a fashion of his own. His neighbors,
who seemed to be almost as poor as himself, often took
him in a portion of their slender dinner, and swept up
his apartment for him. After considerable persuasion he
consented to come to our Home.
About four o'clock one morning, I was suddenly
66 THE STORY OF THE
awakened out of my sleep by a loud rap on my door.
Thinking the house might be on fire, I jumped up and
went to the door. There stood one of the old ladies in
nightgown and kerchief, a most disheveled appearance,
with a frightful look on her face, saying :
"Oh, my dear, that old man you brought here last
night has made an awful smell up on our floor, and lots
of smoke comes from under his door. Something must
be on fire in his room." I rUshed up stairs. The old
man was very deaf, but finally he heard a pounding on
his door and let me in.
In a corner was an oil stove which he had smuggled
in among his belongings. This stood On his washstand,
and something he was frying on it' seemed like some sort
of fish and garlic, which gave but a most stifling and
disagreable odor, while one side of the wall was black-
ened with the smoke. "What does all this mean?" I
asked, when I had blown out the stove and opened the
window. "My dear Madam," he began with a very po-
lite gesture, "it has always been my custom to get up
and make my eatings at four o'clock in the morning.
I cannot wait till your breakfast time."
"We must try and make some other arrangements,"
I said, and I thought everything would be all right when
I gave him some milk and some crackers and cheese in
a tin box for his four o'clock "eatings." But the next
morning they awakened me again, saying there was such
a strong odor of gas coming out of his room that they
thought he had decided to commit suicide, and had
asphyxiated himself. Expecting to find .him stretched
on his bed dead, I turned his key around with a pin,
pushed it out on to the floor, and went in. He was sit-
ting in his armchair contented enough, munching his
crackers and cheese, and drinking his milk, which he had
MARY FISHER HOME 67
heated over the gas, and had probably blown it but with-
out knowing enough to turn it off.
We found it impossible to take care of him, and it
was a puzzle what to do with him. It seemed too un-
kind to send him to the almshouse. He had spent some
of the best years of his life among those very poor coun-
trymen of his, attending their sick, and often receiving
nothing in return but a bowl of soup, or a cup of coffee,
because they had nothing more to give, and the neigh-
bors had told me that he would get up in the middle
of the night whenever they called upon him for his ser-
vices as a physician, and we decided he deserved some-
thing better than the poorhouse. We therefore decided
to send him to St. Johnland, which we could do for one
hundred and fifty dollars per annum, so we paid the
quarter's board in advance, and were glad to see him
shipped off to that excellent institution.
Here he could not shut himself up in a room, for each
old man has an alcove, and is constantly under the super-
vision of an attendant. But no sooner had the three
months expired, than I received a letter informing me
that the old doctor was sent back to us, and I had
scarcely finished reading the letter when I saw him com-
ing up the stoop with an attendant carrying his valise
in one hand, and helping him along with the other.
"What has been the trouble?" I asked, but the man only
raised his eyebrows and was silent.
There was so much that was interesting in this poor
old man that I made one more effort to provide him
with a domicile, so I took a furnished room for him on
the West Side among some poor people, paid his rent
a week in advance, and gave him some money for his
"eatings." But before the week was up the agent came
to me and said, "You must take away your old man,
68 THE STORY OF THE
Madam, he shuffles around so early in the morning, and
wakes people up, and we can't stand it."
My last effort was to place him in the Montefiore
Home, sore against his will, and he remained there until
THE STUDENT OF COLUMBIA.
One day a lady in deep mourning called to see me.
She seemed to have been in deep trouble, for her voice
trembled as she tried to tell me her story. It appeared
from the references which she brought me that her fam-
ily were well-to-do people in a country town in the dis-
tant State of Iowa. After retiring one night, a happy
wife and mother, she awoke the next morning to learn
that her husband had committed suicide, having found
himself bankrupt through some bad investments.
"Why did you not remain in Iowa where you were
known and respected?" I asked. "The journey must
have cost a great deal."
"My son had a burning desire to enter the School of
Mines at Columbia, and I have an old friend who could
help him to a scholarship," she answered, through her
tears. "They have accepted his drawings which he sent
in. But the question is, how are we going to live in the
meantime? The smallest apartments are so expensive
and our money is fast dwindling away."
"But you said you had a daughter. What is she do-
ing?" I asked. "Ah! my daughter, she is studying to
be a trained nurse. We both love the boy so much, we
MARY FISHER HOME 69
would make any sacrifice to help him through. When
we first came on to New York, I opened a boarding
house, but I did not succeed. I have a dread of getting
into debt, so I stored my furniture and took a small
apartment. I heard of you at the Woman's Exchange.
The lady there was very kind to me. She sold a quan-
tity of my home-made pickles, and she told me that my
pies were the most delicious they had ever eaten."
"And so you make pickles and pies?" said I, smiling,
"but don't cry any more, that won't help you at all ; let
us get down to business. Don't keep your things in
storage with such a poor prospect before you. It's the
most miserable way of eating up money. Are you mak-
ing pickles and pies now?"
"Oh, yes, but my stove is so small, that when I have
an order for pies, I have to sit up all night, because I
can bake only one at a time. I never let my piecrust
touch bottom. I turn my plate upside down and cover
the crust over it. It makes it like a shell, into which I
put my fruit or mincemeat. I suppose you never made
pies that way?"
"No, indeed," said I, "but it makes me hungry to hear
you talk of it. However, my time is precious, and as I
am always interested in young students, I will make
you this offer. By crowding up a little, I can accom-
modate you with a couple of rooms where you can
bring some of your furniture, and I will give you your
board for such service as you may be able to render
in my household work; I am often short of help, like
most housekeepers of moderate means, but you must
be willing to do as I do. There is nothing in house-
work that I have not done since I started this Home a
few years ago. I have lighted the kitchen range, and
started the breakfast, I have scrubbed the kitchen floor,
70 THE STORY OF THE
I have washed at the washtub, and was as happy as any
bride starting a new home."
"Oh ! do let me help you !" cried the widow. "You
will find that we have no false pride. Let me scrub your
kitchen floor." "Well, no, not at present," I said, laugh-
ing, "but I shall get some paint, and you and your boy
can paint the rooms which you are going to occupy, for
one of them used to be occupied by an old Polish physi-
cian who used to get up at four o'clock in the morning
and make what he called his 'eatings' over a little oil
stove which he had smuggled in. I am now paying for
him at St. Johnland, because he used to go to sleep and
leave the stove smoking until the wall is as black as my
Before long, this happy mother and son were domi-
ciled. I found their services very useful. When the
daughter was off duty at the hospital, she helped me take
care of the sick. The son helped to keep my books and
he used to . carry our funds to the treasurer, and the
widow often did the cooking. He also went to Wash-
ington Market for me. He was a good caterer, and could
make better bargains with the trades people than I could.
She was delighted with our spacious ovens, where she
could bake her pies whenever she had an order. I gave
her a high closet where she could hide away these tempt-
They remained with me until the boy got through Col-
umbia. He is now at a mining camp out West, and I
know from his letters that he has had to be pretty brave
to endure the hardships of his career, but he knows he
will soon be making a comfortable home for his widowed
This youth is a nephew by marriage of a big banker
who was imprisoned for embezzlement. He was liber-
MARY FISHER HOME 71
ated upon the plea of four physicians who declared that
he had only a very short time to live. After his releasee
he confessed that it cost him four millions of dollars to
get free. Whether all this went to the doctors or part'
of it to some one higher up is a question.
I saw in the Literary Digest that he had regained his'
health, and was doing business as before. I wrote to*
him, asking for a contribution of ten dollars for ouf
Home. He answered in a polite letter saying that he"
could not afford to do this.
THE WRITER OF POEMS.
We were in the habit of giving two weeks' hospitality
to as many as we could accommodate who could not
afford to pay for it, and one day a middle-aged lady-
called and said she had heard about our Home at the
Woman's Exchange, and that she was a writer who
would be grateful for the change of air and environment,
as it might afford her some inspiration on the volume
of poems she was working on and getting ready for pub-
There was something very frank and pleasing in this
little lady, although she impressed me as rather a simple-
minded woman; but as two weeks was not a very long
period, I thought we could afford to grant the same to
She came the next day, and at once gave me some of
her "poems" to read. She thought perhaps I might be
kind enough to get them typewritten for her. I tried
to wade through a few of the papers, but of all the simple
stuff that I had ever seen with very poor rhyme and de-
void of all reason, they certainly capped the climax;
72 THE STORY OF THE
Mother Goose riding on a broom-stick through the
clouds was something mat went ahead of them.
The following week her brother-in-law called on me.
He said she had a mania for writing verse, which had
two great disadvantages, as it took her time from the do-
mestic work of the home, where he had a sick wife and
several small children; also she was hoarding up her
little income in order to publish her "poems," instead of
putting her money into the family exchequer, and he was
a Methodist minister on a small salary.
I told her I thought she was needed at home to super-
vise the housekeeping, as they could afford very little
help, and she said, "f know it is hard for them, but you
see it would be this way, just as I was washing the dishes,
or making a pie, a sudden thought would come to me,
and I would have to drop everything and go up to my
room to write it out."
At last she went home, but in a few days she appeared
with a worried look upon her face saying, "What do you
suppose has happened, all my poems have been destroyed
in a fire."
"Oh, dear, how did it happen?" I asked.
"It is the greatest mystery," she answered. "My
brother-in-law said he went up one evening to the attic
to smoke his cigar by the open window, and he thinks he
must have put his lighted cigar on the box where my
poems were. Some one wanted him down stairs, and
when he came back the box was on fire and the poems
were all destroyed. The mystery is that nothing else
took fire, for the attic is full of all sorts of rubbish. You
see, it is such a loss, for I can never write them over
again, and there is nothing like them in the book-stores"
— and she wiped away a tear. "It will always be a mys-
tery how it was that the most valuable thing in the attic
was the only thing that was destroyed."
MARY FISHER HOME 73
But this mystery could have been solved very probably
by her brother-in-law.
SOME ODD INCIDENTS.
A miserly old lady came to board at our Home, bring-
ing with her a maid, a young woman who was a cripple,
who didn't receive any wages, but was glad to have a
home. Now, at this time we had with us an old jour-
nalist, who had been many years on the New York
papers, and some of the Press people paid a low rate
of board for him through the Charity Organization
Society. The old lady became interested in him, and
they spent their evenings together. No one else seemed
to like him, for he was a most untidy-looking object,
intemperate in his habits, and given to much boasting,
and the telling of enormous falsehoods. However, the
old lady took a flat, and they were married. Her rela-
tives were furious, for they knew she would leave her
property to him. She lived only a year afterward, leav-
ing a will in which she bequeathed all to her husband.
But it was found that her signature gave only her
maiden name. The will had been drawn immediately
after the marriage, and she had forgotten to sign her
married name, so her will was null and void. This was
a great gratification to her relatives.
The Charity Organization Society knew of the work
that our Home was doing, for we often received a needy
one whom their agents sent to us. I knew that this
Society had social workers — ladies and gentlemen who
gave their time to philanthropic work — and I asked Dr.
Divine, the Secretary, to introduce to me two or three
who would serve on our Board of Managers, and in-
terest themselves in the work, and among the names
74 THE STORY OF THE
he gave me was one Dr. Henry Oppenheimer — said to
be an eye-specialist. Dr. Divine said there was an old
gentleman, a Dr. Wiener, who had some valuable land,
and it was his intention to give a portion of it to some
institution — and that he and Dr. Oppenheimer were inti-
Dr. Wiener was a dear old gentleman of about eighty
years, he had often sent us valuable books, and once when
I said to him, "I wish you were better acquainted with
our Home," he answered : "I know all about your Home,
I am satisfied with it because it is non-sectarian."
I was now in hopes of our having a building for our
Home. These new members were acquainted with Dr.
Wiener, and I was very glad when he began to come
to our meetings.
But Dr. Oppenheimer proved to be a most undesir-
able member, and it was through him that the Home
lost the support of Dr. Wiener ; for these two gentlemen
could not work together. Dr. Oppenheimer was so ag-
gressive and domineering, and so unwilling for us to
receive any poor people into our Home, unless they had
money at the back of them, that we refused to agree to
his rules, for they were contrary to the spirit of our
association. When he found that Dr. Wiener would not
give the land, he and his friends resigned.
But he was not content with this, he circulated the
report that he had left us because there was so much
in the management of the Home that he disapproved of.
We were determined to have him face this accusation
and tell what he knew, and for this purpose I went to
Dr. Divine, and asked him to permit a committee of us
to meet Dr. Oppenheimer at his (Dr. Divine's) office, at
such time as Dr. Oppenheimer could be present. I felt
MARY FISHER HOME 75
this was only just to us, since Dr. Divine had introduced
this man to us.
The appointment was made and agreed to by Dr.
Oppenheimer. We were all on time, and with Dr. Di-
vine, sat waiting his coming.
But he never came. Dr. Divine 'phoned to him, but
he answered back that he couldn't come, and must be
We made another attempt to meet him at his house,
but he would never show his face.
Dr. Wiener said, "I am ashamed of him."
THE TWO SISTERS.
One of the most comical characters that we ever had
in our home was a young woman ,who had a mania for
speculation. Wonderfully industrious and kind-hearted,
she was always anxious to do good from her own pe-
culiar point of view. She had a sister, and a brother
who had been an Episcopal clergyman in Canada and
was sent on a vacation to England by his congregation.
Here he met a wealthy English lady whom he married.
He had been in the habit of providing his sisters with
twenty dollars per month each toward their support, ex-
pecting them to do something themselves to add to their
maintenance. But their peculiar choice of occupation
was always something antagonistic to any opportunity
that offered itself for this purpose.
In the first place, they could not live together. Emma,
the elder of the two, conceived the idea that she was like
Joan d'Arc, and that she had an inspiration from
;6 THE STORY OF THE
Heaven. But whereas patriotism inspired the French
maid, it was theology that inspired this Miss Emma.
For nine years she had shut herself up in a little house
by herself in Dedham, near Boston, to make a new ex-
position of the Scriptures, and to add to them what she
considered was sadly missing. She found they did not
balance. Three wise men who came from the East to
worship the infant Christ must, she thought, be balanced
by three wise women from the West. In Noah's ark
they all went in pairs even to the smallest birds, because
Noah, like herself, understood that all things should
She found that the Deity was not perfect, there should
be Father, Mother, Son and Daughter — that the Holy
Spirit was feminine. But certainly this idea did not orig-
inate with her, for it had been floating around the world
for ages. But that there was a fourth Deity seems to
have been her own conception. She now came to New
York intending to give lectures.
The two sisters took a flat together, but not being
able to live in harmony they soon separated. Each took
a flat, which absorbed nearly the whole of their slender
income, and they were often in financial straits and be-
hind with their rent.
Their brother continued to send the money regularly,
but it came to them once in three months, and as a gen-
eral thing, most of it would be used up by the end of
the first month.
The younger sister, hearing that her brother's wife
was a wealthy woman living in good style, was deter-
mined to go and make her acquaintance, and become one
of her brother's family ; this she thought she had a right
to do, without waiting for an invitation.
MARY FISHER HOME 77
Her brother's wife received her very kindly, although
she was astonished to see her. But when her brother
came home and found her there he was furiously angry,
and told her to pack up at once and return to New York,
or she would never have another dollar from him. She
had spent all her money, and had nothing left to bring
her back, but he soon bought her a ticket, and shipped
her off. She was pleasing in appearance and being a
lady to the manner born, she always managed to make
friends where she could go to pay a visit.
The elder sister, Emma, had determined to follow her
to England and claim the same right of living with their
brother's family. But when she heard of the cold re-
ception her sister had received, and how angry her
brother was, she became too frightened to venture.
When she was about to be ejected, she took a position
in our home to be generally useful at ten dollars per
month. She was very industrious, but was strongly
impressed with the notion that she must uplift the ignor-
ant, and I often found her after dinner, seated on the
kitchen table, the help standing around her, while she
expounded the Scripture, or some part of hygiene or the
sin of eating animals, for she was a strict vegetarian.
At the end of three months she had thirty dollars, and
to have so much money and not speculate with it was
beyond Emma's control. So she gave me notice at once
that she must leave me, and take a flat, as she intended
to go into business. I inquired what business she in-
tended to venture in. "Merchandise," she said, "I shall
keep a store ; you must come to see it."
78 THE STORY OF THE
EM MA'S ECCENTRICITIES.
One summer evening I went to see Emma. She was
living in a newly opened section of the Bronx, had taken
a flat on the ground floor, and in the window I saw the
"Merchandise" offered for sale. There were footstools
made of three tomato cans, and ingeniously upholstered,
also pincushions made over fruit cans, but as she had so
little money to purchase material, the cloth used was
often a piece of bed-ticking on the footstools, and a
piece of washed-out ribbon often graced the pincushions.
She was full of hopeful smiles when she welcomed me,
and I tried to reason with her, and show her that her
wares were not attractive. "But they are so very cheap,"
she said. "I am giving all my time and charging only
for the goods."
I went through her apartment ; it was wretchedly bare.
To me it was something pathetic. A young woman in
the prime of her womanhood, well educated, who had
been accustomed to the best in her parents' lifetime, now
an object of the deepest pity.
There were the Indian swamis taking the city by
storm, and the most intelligent people flocked to hear
their views of theology, which were not half so interest-
ing as much that fell from the lips of this young woman,
but for the want of some agent to push her, she had
no opportunity of being the fad of a day. But Emma
was not unhappy ; to practice austerities was one of the
rules of her life, and she viewed with some satisfaction
a poor little cot bed, her lame rocking chair, and her
table made out of a board on top of a barrel which held
MARY FISHER HOME j 9
"But what are those figures on the wall ?" I asked.
"The illustrations of my allegory," she answered, with
a smile. There were the three wise men from the East,
and as Emma was not a very good artist, one could not
help being reminded that man is fearfully and wonder-
fully made. Opposite them were the three wise women
of the West. "One is your portrait," she said, "and the
others are my sister and myself." Now as both the
sisters were very good-looking women, I could hot, find
fault with the caricature of myself that adorned the wall,
and any one of us might have represented the Witch of
While here in this little flat, she took in an old lady
who had been turned, out by one of the tenants because
she could no longer pay , her board. Emma gave up
her own little cot bed, and laid herself on the floor. She
was always doing a kindness for some one. But finally
the non-payment of rent stared her in the face again,
and she and the old lady were turned into the street,
and my portrait with others adorned the sidewalk, with
the "merchandise" for company.
All the neighbors were sorry for Emma; they looked
upon her as a lady a little bit crazy. They took charge
of her few belongings, the janitor stored them away for
her in his cellar, and again ,she came to me. Again she
worked faithfully and well, but as soon as she had saved
thirty dollars she was again seized with the desire to
speculate with it.
She took a very nice flat on Fourth Avenue, paid
down a deposit and spent nearly all her money in second-
hand furniture to equip her rooms for taking lodgers,
keeping the little kitchenette for herself. But as so
many people let furnished rooms the applicants who
80 THE STORY OF THE
answered her ad in the paper did not find her place at-
One day a beggar woman with a baby in her arms
rang her bell. She told a tale of woe, and Emma, be-
lieving the Lord had sent them to her, took her in and
shared with her the best she had. But the baby was
sick and cried in the night, and the tenants overhead
complained that their rest was disturbed on account of
it. The owner, who lived in the house opposite, came
over in high dudgeon to investigate, and when he
learned the facts, he said, "What does this mean? I
thought you were a single woman living alone, and this
beggar and her brat may give the house the smallpox,
or the diphtheria. What is that horrid odor of oil?
Where does it come from?" He looked around, and
found in a corner a kerosene stove made out of three
tomato cans. "Mercy upon us, you'll set the house on
fire," he added.
The next thing I heard of Emma was that she and
her lodger had been put out on the sidewalk, and the
Charity Organization Society had been notified.
One of the agents of that Society came to me, for
Emma always referred people to me when they wanted
to know anything about her. I explained that the
trouble was that she received her allowance from her
brother every three months, and that she never could
make it last. So that Society communicated with the
Charity Organization of London, which arranged with
the brother to send the money to them, and now the
sisters receive their portion through this Society, and
live each of them in one of those two-roomed apart-
ments, and pay by the week.
Now that their income is doled out to them in such
small installments, there is no longer the opportunity
MARY FISHER HOME 81
for Emma to get into those terrible straits which she
was always falling into.
When I called upon her I found her very happy, still
working on her allegory. She considered that the thou-
sand years of peace prophesied to us are now at hand,
that Satan has been bound long enough, and will there-
fore be set free.
I could not understand exactly where he is expected
to locate himself, but she is sure that he will not be able
to trouble us any longer. Her work is a curiosity to any-
one who could give their time to wade through it.
SOME QUEER HELP.
Often I smile as I look back and recall some of my
comical experiences with some of my help. As economy
had to be studied to the letter, I often found it an advan-
tage to employ out-of-work young men, as they were
cheaper than women. The Y. M. C. A. often supplied
me with a bookkeeper out of work, who was glad to have
a comfortable home and small wages — seven dollars per
month was the average pay. Of course, they were often
very awkward, and made a sorry spectacle, and I had to
be with them most of the time. For more than a year,
I had a young man in the laundry doing all the coarse
washing, and he learned to iron quite well. He had been
in the real estate business. He kept up a correspondence
with a former employer who came to see me and said,
"I am so glad to find that he has overcome the drink
habit ; I shall take him back to my office again."
82 THE STORY OF THE
We had one very severe winter, and when I advertised
for a useful man, there would be a line reaching half way
down the block. Early one very bitter morning, the cook
called to me saying, "I let the first two in, they seemed
most perished. You ought to take that first one ; he says
he got up at four o'clock this morning and then walked 1
a mile to look in the newspapers, and has walked from
way down town. Now, I didn't like the look of this No.
i, and the honest face of No. 2 appealed so much to me.
However, I permitted the cook's volubility to overcome
my judgment, and I dismissed No. 2 with a cup of coffee,
and took No. 1.
Later in the day, the cook shouted to me to come quick,
that the new man was raising ructions in the kitchen and
that he lived only round the corner.
Once a French-Canadian answered my "ad." — a neat,
good-looking young man. I found that he had an apti-
tude for cooking, like many of the Latin race, and I
taught him to make the bread. Very soon he was able
to do the cooking. He made a fine looking "chef" in his
white apparel. He was very reticent about himself, and
I often wondered what he had been. One day, when he
came to me for his wages, he noticed a book that I was
reading entitled "Eastern Monasteries." He lingered a
while, and I found that he knew considerable of monastic
life. He told me that he knew of a monastery where the
monks were all very old men, and that a young monk who
went there found the diet so frugal that he didn't get
enough to eat, and he ran away. I thought that per-
haps he was that young man. "I am so glad that he ran
away," I said. He was silent awhile, as if reflecting.
Finally he said, as he shook his head mournfully, "But
his soul will go to hell." He used to admire a pretty
young nurse-maid on our block, and would follow her to
MARY FISHER HOME 83
church. She left our neighborhood, and he became
moody and more silent than ever. One day he came
and gave me notice that he must leave. He had been
with us over three years. Whether he followed the girl,
or whether, like the escaped monk in "The Garden of
Allah," he returned to the monastery to save his soul —
we never heard.
THE MYSTERY IN THE NIGHT.
But once something occurred that was a source of
great perplexity to me. Some one used to go round in
the middle of the night and knock loudly on the doors
of the sleepers. This was generally between two and
four o'clock in the morning. We could think of no one
who was an enemy to the Home intent on doing us such
mischief. An old gentleman who was a spiritualist was
sure it had supernatural agency. Finally, I sent to the
Society for Psychological Research, and they soon solved
the mystery. It was the last person in the world that I
would have suspected — a dear old lady very much in
need of a home. She had been sent to us by Mr. Hilton,
the editor of the Home Journal; he had known her hus-
band, who was an author. When left a widow, she had
tried to support herself by keeping a lodging house, and
it was an important part of her work to knock on the
doors of milkmen and car conductors in the morning
before daybreak. She was a somnambulist, and all our
efforts failed to control her, and we were compelled to
SOME WORTHY SUFFERERS.
One of the saddest cases of poverty that came to my
notice was that of an aged sculptor and his paralyzed
84 THE STORY OF THE
wife. It had happened to him, as it does to all in the
profession, when no longer able to keep his social posi-
tion, he was dropped out, and younger men filled his
place although his work stood in the Central Park, and
in the homes of the wealthy. He had sunk into poverty
and oblivion from no fault of his own, nor anyone's fault
apparently. Their neighbors, seeing their distress, noti-
fied a charitable society, and finally their agent paid their
rent regularly to the landlord. A poor neighbor, living
on charity, found that they often had nothing to eat all
day, but two little potatoes. Then she spoke to her
church people about it, and through their deaconess, we
heard of them. As soon as the case was known, kind-
hearted people responded to the call headed by one of
our prominent American sculptors, and an entrance fee
was raised for them, and they came to our Home.
How much they suffered in silence was apparent, for
they had scarcely any belongings, nearly everything had
been parted with, and although they made a neat appear-
ance, we were shocked to find that during that cold win-
ter, they had scarcely any underclothing. The wife was
a charming little lady, and it was touching to see her hus-
band's devoted attention to her as her nurse which he
had been so many years. It was this that had taken so
much of his attention and helped to break him down.
Once she said to me, "Your Home is like a fairyland,
sometimes I'm afraid I shall wake up and find it a
One morning the mail brought me a letter with the
following message : "Look back to some years ago, and
you will remember Miss R., — once a popular principal
in one of the large public schools of New York. She is
now in the Flatbush insane asylum — but she is not in-
sane. She is there through some mistake. Go to see
MARY FISHER HOME 85
her and judge for yourself." I went. Her handsome
face bore traces of melancholy and suffering, but she
greeted me with that gentle, amiable, cultured manner
which had always been her charm.
"How did you come to be here?" I asked. "I don't
know," she answered, "but surely I ought not to be in
such a place as this."
I learned that she had been living all alone in a little
flat, when suddenly her money seemed to have given
out, and she was found sitting in a sort of dazed condi-
tion, without fire or food. Her landlady got a carriage
and took her to Flatbush.
I felt sure that she was not mentally deranged, and
after the necessary preliminaries, a day for her release
was set, and I was allowed to bring her away to our
I was curious to know how she came to resign her
place in the school, where she held a good position so
well assured, for I had inquired at the Board of Educa-
tion, and was told that her record was excellent. So one
day when she seemed stronger, I broached the subject
She looked at me with her sad, melancholy eyes, and
was silent awhile, finally she said, "Oh, my dear, I have
closed the book, don't ask me to open it again — it is
But the world is small. I happened to mention her
name to a family where I was visiting one day, and they
remembered living next door to her for many years,
when her family was in its prosperity. Her brother was
one of the commissioners of the Board of Education,
a bachelor well-to-do, and he lived at home with his
mother and sisters. They lived handsomely in a house
which they owned.
86 THE STORY OF THE
Anna was the youngest sister, and a born educator,
a well read woman, of broad culture. She was a large
woman, rather commanding in appearance, but with a
very sweet face. Now, a handsome man, who called
himself a broker, came into her life, and with what
seemed the brightest prospects, they were married.
They travelled about a great deal, he always seemed
to have plenty of money. Finally, Anna was tired of
so much journeying, and wanted to settle down at home,
which he was reluctant to do. She began to wonder
what his business could be, for he spent most of his
time on steamboats and trains. At last her brother dis-
covered that he was a professional gambler. Broken-
hearted, for she was very fond of him, she left him at
once, came home and resumed her maiden name, and
never wanted to hear of him again. Her life was now
a wreck, but her family sheltered her with loving care,
and she buried herself in her books. The brother, who
was the mainstay of the family, died suddenly. In a
few years, the sisters followed, leaving Anna with the
care of her invalid mother, a large, heavy woman, who
required a capable nurse. The income began to shrink
away, then the house had to be mortgaged, and finally
it had to be sold under foreclosure. After her mother's
death, she removed to Brooklyn and tried to support
herself by teaching music, which failed of success.
Often she would take hold of me as she met me on
the stairs and say, "I want you to know how much I
appreciate what you have done for me."
And if our Home had done nothing more than to
shelter this unfortunate woman — I should feel that it had
not been founded in vain.
MARY FISHER HOME 87
THE OLD ARTIST.
J. Wells Champney, the artist, often interested him-
self in the needy whom he met with in his profession —
sometimes it was one of his models, and he would write
me, "I believe this to be a good girl, adrift in this big
city; do what you can for her."
At one time it was an old artist who had been his
teacher when he was a young man studying in Paris.
His work had once been among the best, but now in
his old age, his brain was affected, and his paintings
were mere caricatures. He was most eccentric in his
conduct. A gentleman allowed him his loft, which he
made his studio, and where he lived in the most
grotesque manner, clotted up with all kinds of curios —
skulls and bones, each of which he said had a history.
He was strictly temperate, but couldn't take care of
money. What Mr. Wells Champney gave him for food,
often went for some canvases or some brushes, and
so the only thing to be done, was to arrange with a res-
taurant to provide him with two good meals a day. But
no one restaurant would suit him for both these meals.
To settle the matter, I had to arrange for his breakfast
in Third Avenue, and for his dinner in Eighth Avenue —
quite a distance apart. But his physique was strong,
and he was a great walker.
As soon as we had a vacancy, we took him into our
Home at Tenafly. Good Mrs. Champney raised some
three hundred dollars as an entrance fee.
One morning he lighted some wood in his slop-jar,
and went out to take a walk while his room got warm.
Fortunately, the fire was discovered in time to save the
88 THE STORY OF THE
He had a religious mania, and used to walk miles to
a particular church, carrying a heavy Bible and con-
cordance strapped to his back like a knapsack, and re-
turn home late in the afternoon — always contented with
the cold dinner left for him, provided he had sugar
enough to put in his water. He said he had acquired
this habit while living in France.
He persisted in arranging three stones where people
would stumble over them to remind them of the Trinity.
He soon cluttered up his room with all sorts of oddities,
picked up in his long rambles. Sometimes I would say
to him, "But I think this must have been stolen," and
he would answer, "The Lord put it in my way."
Finally I told him I wanted him to come with me to
talk about paintings to a gentleman, and in this way I
got him to Bellevue to be examined for his sanity. I
had to remain in the room while he was confronted with
the charges that I had preferred against him. He
owned up to all his antics, giving a religious reason for
every one, putting in, now and then, a text of Scripture,
and questioning the doctors as to their belief in a per-
sonal devil, very much to their amusement. They de-
cided to keep him, and from there he was sent to the
insane hospital on the island. But we kept track of him.
When I went to see him, I said, "It's so nice for you to
have a room to yourself." "But they always make you
leave the door open," he answered, "and, beside, they
don't put enough sugar in the puddings, and I can't
get any hair dye to make my hair its natural color."
MOVING THE HOME.
About this time we received a legacy of one hundred
dollars. A lady of very small means boarded with us
for a while at four dollars per week. She seemed to be
MARY FISHER HOME 89
very happy with us. But she became very ill, and her
relatives took her away. After her death, I was much
surprised when her brother wrote me that she had re-
quested him to send us this amount.
The property on St. Ann's Avenue was to be sold,
and we found it impossible to find a house large enough
to accommodate us, so we had to take one on Grand
Avenue at Fordham, and another at Crestwood. This
division of housekeeping with its separate menage was
expensive and more difficult to supervise, and the strain
began to tell upon me. Finally Miss Laura Saunders
found us a large house on Gramatan Avenue, Mt. Ver-
non, and by altering it to our purpose, we were able to
make it our Home for the next eight years. But, the
heavy rent, the improvements and the repairs were a
drain upon our resources, and it was impossible to save
anything toward a new building.
However, we made some new friends among the good
people of Mt. Vernon, and Mrs. James Harcombe was
our faithful Treasurer.
A DIAMOND WEDDING.
Those who can look back far enough, will be able
to recall a wedding at St. Patrick's Cathedral, when
the daughter of a prominent captain of the navy was
married to a count who had immense wealth in sugar
plantations in Cuba. This was long known and talked
of as the "Diamond Wedding," for the tall, handsome
bride was a blaze of diamonds — the wedding gift of her
Upon the death of her husband she made an unfor-
tunate marriage with a sort of adventurer, and this was
her undoing. Her property in Cuba was many years in
po THE STORY OF THE
litigation, and, finally, when the Cubans were released
from the Spanish yoke, she went to Cuba expecting to
work her immense sugar plantation herself, or sell the
property. But failing to find a purchaser and not hav-
ing the necessary money to pay for labor she was obliged
to abandon the scheme and return to New York.
So, after years of hopeless waiting, she found herself
penniless and friendless, except for one gentleman, a
friend of her childhood, who was willing to provide for
her under our care. She was with us two years; her
misfortunes had unbalanced her mind. The malady
grew worse and we could not keep her.
In 1899 our Tenafly Home was founded — an account
of which is given in Chapter XXX.
THE LOST FORTY DOLLARS.
Once I advertised for a young man to attend to two
furnaces and do clerical work in return for his board and
ten dollars per month, and a bookkeeper out of employ-
ment took the position. It was my custom every night
to take my check-book and bag containing money and
checks up to my room, and deposit them on a shelf in
One morning I started to bring them down to the
office, but could find only the check -book. I concluded
that I must have left my bag in the office over night, and
went there in search of it, but nowhere could I find it.
I was so vexed with myself for my carelessness, that I
waited several days before speaking of it, thinking it
would turn up. It was Christmas time, and my young
MARY FISHER HOME 91
clerk had been showing us some pretty presents that
he had bought for his girl cousins, some of them cost-
ing as much as two and three dollars apiece. I felt sure
that he had picked up my bag with its forty dollars.
I had stopped the checks at the bank, and I now sent
for a detective and told him that I suspected the young
man. After he had interviewed him in a private room,
he came to me; settling himself comfortably in an easy
chair, and stretching out his legs, he said: "Of course,
that fellow took your bag. It doesn't take me long to
size up that kind. He was very reticent about himself,
didn't want to tell where he had been for the last few
years ; now if you say so, I will arrest him on suspicion."
But I didn't want to do that. After he was gone, the
clerk came to me and said, "Don't send me away, let me
stay on, and I'll forfeit my wages for four months so
that you will be none the poorer for the loss of the forty
dollars. I can see that you work hard to support this
Home, and you have been kind to me."
I felt more convinced than ever that he had taken the
bag. A friend who was stopping with me said, "You
must send him off; it's not safe to have him in the
house; we shall be losing more things." However, I
sent for my nephew who lived near, and his advice was :
"Don't send him away; it's no proof that he took your
bag because he offered to make good your loss. There
are so many others in the house, and you may have
dropped it on the stairs. Any one may have picked it
up. Don't send him away."
I followed his advice, the young man's work was so
satisfactory, he was always ready to help in any way,
and was so gentlemanly in his manner, and often worked
overtime, that I didn't deprive him of his wages, but I
92 THE STORY OF THE
still suspected him, and it made me take a dislike to him,
and I avoided him all I could.
When the spring opened, he obtained a better posi-
tion. On leaving us he said : "I might be glad to take
such a position another winter. I'd rather than live
on the bounty of my cousins, and I should like to have
a reference from you as my work was satisfactory, but I
won't ask it."
However, I took his address.
Some time after, I had occasion to change my room,
and in taking out my clothes from the closet, I found my
bag; it had fallen behind the shelf, and was lodged be-
tween the wall and the clothes, which had hidden it from
view. The discovery cost me no little worry, and not a
few tears, for suspecting an honest young man. I wrote'
to him immediately enclosing ten dollars, which he
promptly acknowledged with thanks, and said my letter
was a great relief to his mind. Also I enclosed him a
good reference. I informed the detective that for once
he was mistaken.
This brings to my recollection another case of unwar-
ranted suspicion. A poor charwoman came to our base-
ment door looking for work. Our cook seemed to know
her, they attended the same church, so I hired her to
come by the day and help with our spring cleaning.
She worked so well that I was anxious to keep her until
the work was finished, and to make sure of her coming,
I never gave her the whole of her day's pay.
One night, I found the cook up late looking for her
pocketbook, which she had brought down to the kitchen
to pay her insurance. Knowing her to be a forgetful
woman, I joined her in the search. I hunted in every
drawer, closet and crevice, but no sign of it. The next
morning the charwoman didn't show up. As there was
MARY FISHER HOME 93
five dollars coming to her, we felt sure that she had
stolen the pocketbook. The cook wanted to have her
arrested, but we didn't know her address, so she went
to early mass every Sunday, hoping to get some track
of her. But never saw her afterwards. One day, she
was clearing out some tinware to throw away, and found
her big, old pocketbook in an old saucepan with all her
money — over fifty dollars — and her papers intact. We
never heard of the poor charwoman.
A SAD SUICIDE.
One morning we detected the odor of gas coming
from the room of an old artist; on bursting open the
door, we found him reclining on his back, his arms
crossed over his breast.
He was dead.
He left a letter saying, "My designs grace the Trium-
phal Arch at Washington Square, New York City.
When ladies and gentlemen are admiring that Arch, little
will they dream that the poor artist who made those de-
signs was never paid one dollar for his work. The man
who had the contract received a large sum, and then dis-
appeared. It was the last public work of my life. The
injustice and disappointment have preyed upon me, and
I cannot shake it off."
His specialty had been painting children, especially
boys — bootblacks and newsboys.
THE MELANCHOLY YOUNG MAN.
At one time when I advertised for a useful man, a
young man answered who was an American of French
descent. He had large, melancholy eyes and a sorrowful
94 THE STORY OF THE
expression, and the interview proved to be a comical sort
"What kind of work have you been accustomed to
do?" I asked.
"I was never accustomed to do any kind of work."
"Then how did you earn your living?"
"I never earned my living."
"But how did you pay your board?"
"I never paid any board."
"Then you have an income to live upon ?"
"I never had an income to live upon."
"Then some one took care of you," I said.
"Yes, I lived with my mother and sister."
"And did you not have anything to do ?"
"I answered the door and sometimes went on an er-
"Why did you answer my advertisement?"
"They told me I should have to find some work, be-
cause my brother-in-law died, and the home was broken
"Well, I will tell you, that if you come here to work
for us you must be willing to do such things as sweep,
clean windows, wash dishes, and set the table."
"But I have never done any of these things."
"Then it was no use for you to come here unless you
are willing to learn to do this kind of work."
"I am willing to learn to do this kind of work."
"Now, there is one thing I must tell you, and that is
this: I don't allow any man to go about in his shirt
sleeves, our useful men have to wear what they call
'jumpers,' which they can change and put on clean every
"Oh, madame, a jumper, that would be impossible in
my case, I should look like a mechanic, people might take
me for a plumber."
MARY FISHER HOME 95
"Then that settles the matter," I said. "I must get
some one else."
He took up his hat, and looking at me with his sorrow-
ful eyes he added, "Madame, I am very sorry but you see
it would be impossible, good morning."
In the evening he called again and said, "I have come
back — my sister says I must stay and wear a jumper."
The next morning I put him to work at the breakfast
dishes; he was very slow but worked very neatly, and I
told him he was doing very well.
"Yes, madame, but it makes me so unhappy," he said.
Of course I discovered that his mind was weak, and
that was probably the reason why his family had taken
care of him.
It often happened that some of the subscribers to the
Home would ask me if I could recommend to them some
honest person when they were short of help. And about
this time a widow lady who had a very nice home in the
country wrote to inquire if I knew of a man who would
mow the lawn, and make himself generally useful about
her place, and I thought this would be a pleasant place
for this melancholy young man, and I suggested it to him.
I knew he was perfectly honest, neat and respectable, and
I was glad to oblige her, because she had been such a
good friend to the Home.
"Oh, my dear madame, how could I think of such a
thing?" he answered. "I was willing to be here with you
because I felt that I was shut out from the world, that
none of my former friends would see me in a jumper,
but if I should go there, some of the people coming to
see her might find me on the lawn in a jumper, and they
would recognize me."
"But it will be so nice to earn such good money," I
p6 THE STORY OF THE
"But I do not care for much money," he answered.
However, I persuaded him that this lady was an in-
valid, and lived very quietly, saw very little company, and
that he might be there a whole year, or even a whole life-
time, without meeting any one who knew him.
"Well, I will go, madame, but you don't know how
dreadful it is for me to wear a jumper."
Some years after that I met a lady who knew his fam-
ily, and she told me that he did not live very long, and
that it was death that finally released him of the jumper.
There is always a large class of women looking for
work, who don't want to soil their hands.
"Oh ! I couldn't do anything menial !" How often my
advice has been met with this response. "I never did
menial work in my life."
And I would ask, "Did you never make a bed, or sweep
a room, or cook a dinner, or wash dishes?"
"Oh ! well, yes — in my own house, but I shouldn't like
to do it anywhere else."
This always reminded me of that beautiful passage
where the tired fishermen left their nets on the shore
and came in obedience to the voice of the Christ, calling
to them, and saying, "Come and eat," and they found a
fire kindled, and coals thereon and fish cooking. Their
Lord knew their need of this. His loving hands had
made that fire and put on the coals and cooked the fish,
and yet some Christian people pretend to be unable to
soil their hands.
MARY FISHER HOME p;
Some ladies in Boston, including the widow of Ole
Bull the famous violinist, and one of the daughters of
Longfellow, interested themselves in a widow who sold
books for a living. She had been a journalist in her
younger days. They raised a few hundred dollars and
we received her into our Home. But she preferred liv-
ing her own life and came very unwillingly.
Finding she had no appreciation for the Home offered
her — always late to her meals and staying away for
weeks together, we decided to return the entrance fee
to the ladies and assign her room to one who needed it.
One other case gave us a great deal of trouble. The
woman seemed to think that because we had taken her
for life we were obliged to keep her, no matter what her
conduct might be. When she had been with us two
years we told her she must leave and offered her the
three hundred dollars entrance fee which a lady had paid
for her. But she refused to go, so we placed the money
in the hands of a lawyer who finally relieved us of her.
We couldn't afford to waste our substance on lazy
people who imagined that the world owed them a living.
So we followed the example of Elbert Hubbard of the
Roycrofters, when he found a gentleman tramp had
lighted down upon him, and was not willing to go into
his shop to work. He invited him to take a drive, and
he then dropped him down at the station, with a railroad
ticket to take him back where he came from.
I didn't do exactly that, but I used to put an advertise-
ment in the papers, saying, that a woman would do light
housework in return for a good home and small compen-
sation. I always had many answers, and some very good
ones among them. They never received more than five
dollars per month, but often had little gifts which were
more to them than money. Some of them I still hear
from as time goes by.
p8 THE STORY OF THE
The aged poet Whittier was interested in a young lady
and wrote me the following letter:
"Danvers, Mass., Sept. 9, 1890.
Dear Miss Fisher:
My young friend Miss has sent me the report
of the Home for Destitute Authors and Artists.
It seems to me to be a most excellent institution. The
thought of it on the part of the founder was an inspira-
tion, and I think God will bless it. Miss is a lady
of fine talents, and the sister of one of the most promising
of our writers.
No one better deserves a home than she does. With
hearty approval of the work, I am thy aged friend,
John G. Whittier.
This young lady came to us, and I found her one of
the most pleasing and interesting girls that I had ever
known, but she was totally deaf, and this had debarred
her from any office work where she might have earned
a living. She was so bright and intelligent, that when
you gave her half a sign she could guess the whole of
what you wanted to tell her.
I soon learned to talk to her on my fingers, though we
often did more laughing than talking, for she had a keen
sense of humor.
But I saw that there were times when she felt sad and
lonely. She had been born and brought up in Boston,
and had never been away from it, she had many kind
friends there and missed them very much.
One day she said to me, "I wonder if I ever shall be
able to get anything to do."
"You are a perfect little housekeeper," I answered.
MARY FISHER HOME 99
"I have a scheme for you, let me try it and see how it
So I put an advertisement in the Boston Transcript
and she was much pleased with some of the answers.
And in a week's time she was comfortably domiciled in
Boston which she so much loved, and where her friends
could come and see her, for she had many in the Episco-
pal Church where she had been brought up.
In one of her bright, cheery letters she wrote, "My
good hostess and I have a race every morning after
breakfast to see who will get to the upstairs work first."
I still correspond with her, and will do so as long as
we both live.
A CRIPPLE VS. POLITICIANS.
One of the most interesting ladies that came into our
boarding department was Miss K , a pioneer of the
"League of the Baptized," an organization which is a
woman's auxiliary to aid and augment the fund for the
aged and retired clergy of the Episcopal Church.
She was in the prime of her womanhood, had met with
a sad accident while leaving a trolley car, which kept her
confined to her bed for some time, and made her a cripple
for life. For two years the case had been in litigation,
and was finally lost.
But she wanted to be occupied, and while an invalid
in her room she thought out and planned this noble work.
Being a D. A. R., of an old American family, she was
well-connected, and was able to secure Mrs. Seth Low
as the Treasurer of the fund.
wo THE STORY OF THE
The conditions of this league are that every Episco-
palian should contribute ten cents per annum. Miss
K sought to have a delegate in each church to col-
lect the dues.
The work has gone quietly on, and has so far pro-
gressed that this small sum of ten cents has brought in
a considerable amount.
But Miss K also took up another line of work.
She had had the advantage of a superior education, had
been sent to England in her girlhood, where she had
made English History a special study, and as soon as she
was able to move about with the aid of a cane, she was
engaged by the Board of Education of New York City
to lecture under the auspices of that body.
The subject she selected for her first lecture was Wal-
ter Raleigh, a special favorite of hers; this she arranged
with stereoscopic views.
Now there were some politicians who had some influ-
ence in the Board of Education, who were opposed to
her giving this lecture, and they so warned her to cut it
down, and so restricted her as to what she should tell,
that she was discouraged, and knew that the lecture
would lose half its significance and beauty. However,
she braced up, and went through with it.
I attended that lecture ; as I sat there and watched this
young woman, as she stood there describing so graphi-
cally the various scenes in that eventful and tragical life,
I was deeply impressed with the injustice which is per-
mitted in a great city like New York, where a body of
ignorant and bigoted men can step in, and control a situ-
ation which is far above their intelligence and their un-
MARY FISHER HOME 101
A BELGIAN EDITOR.
One of the most troublesome guests we ever had to
deal with was a little, old Belgian editor. By some
means he had come into the notice of charitable people
who saw that he ought to be in some Home. In the
meantime they allowed him what he needed to pay the
rent of his room and provide him with food. He liked
this method much better than going into an institution,
and did all he could to fight against it.
I presume his friends had become tired of helping him
in his own way, and they placed him in the care of the
Charity Organization Society, so that the help he re-
ceived, although it still came from them, was given to
him through that Society.
When it was arranged that he should come into our
Home, I went to see him. I looked round the bare
room and seeing no sign of a bed I asked, "But where
do you sleep?"
He shuffled over to a closet, and opened the door. On
the floor was an old comfortable. On this bed of his a
large white cat was sleeping. I made some remark about
the animal and he said, "That cat is a necessity, other-
wise I could not sleep in this room, on account of the
And yet he was so reluctant to leave this miserable
shanty, and was very uncommunicative, but I knew that
in the past he had been an interesting man, a great
student, always making researches in scientific matters,
and making translations.
He had probably come to this country for a wider field
for his energies, and not meeting with the success that
102 THE STORY OF THE
he had hoped for, it had embittered his temper, so that
at times he was almost morose.
However, true charity is no respecter of persons, and
a man who had given the best of his lifetime to study
and to literature as he had, deserved our attention. After
raising every objection that he could think of, he re-
fused to come unless he could bring with him the big
white cat. So we consented to let him bring the animal
among his belongings.
However, as we couldn't allow a cat in his bedroom,
we had to find a home for it elsewhere. The old man
never forgave me for this, and seemed determined to
give us as much trouble as possible. As his sight was
failing, we assigned him a room on the upper floor, be-
cause it had two good windows, and gave plenty of light;
but our useful man had to carry his meals up to his room
three times a day, because he wouldn't come down to
the dining room. Often I have seen him walking
around in the grounds, and when the dinner bell rang
he would run into the house, and being very light on
his feet, he would run up the long flight of stairs with
the agility of a boy, determined to have the tray brought
up to his room. He was like a child in many respects.
He declared it would kill him to take a bath, and we
found it necessary every little while to send word to the
Society how troublesome he was, and they would send
one of their men to talk to him, and warn him that if
he did not do better they would put him in the alms-
His principal diet was hard-boiled eggs and rice. He
would pay no attention to the advice of the physician
as to what his proper diet should be. He was with us
nine years, but never once came down to his meals.
MARY FISHER HOME 103
Finally, he died suddenly of acute indigestion, at the
age of eighty-seven years.
Our old professor had the happy faculty for making
comments upon passing events, and sometimes very
pointed and sharp ones — without giving offence to any
One Sunday evening some one spoke of a sermon
he had heard in the morning at a Universalist church,
and several gave their preferences in regard to preachers
"What religion are you, sir?" asked our friend — turn-
ing to an aged sculptor.
The old gentleman was silent a while, then said —
"Born Catholic — now nothing. My Mother was
"Then you are certainly a Catholic," said a French
lady, who was a very zealous Catholic, "you were born
a Catholic and you will always be one by birth."
"But can a man be born a religion ?" asked some one.
"Of course," answered the French lady.
"I should like to know what religion I was born,"
remarked our philosopher with the usual twinkle in his
"Why, you were born Protestant, monsieur," said
"But I have not protested against anything, I shall
have to answer like my friend here, born nothing — now
"But, madame, from which side of the house does a
child get his religion — the father's or the mother's?"
asked the philosopher.
104 THE STORY OF THE
"Why from the mother's side — Madame has proved
this," answered some one.
"But, madame, suppose a child's father was a Cath-
olic, and his mother a Hindu?"
Madame was silent a while, then responded, "In that
case, of course, he would take his religion from his
Our professor tried to control himself, but he laughed
However, madame gave the old sculptor no rest now
that she knew that he was "Born Catholic."
"I shall see that he goes to church and makes his du-
ties," she said to me.
But she imposed upon herself no easy task, for
whether it was high mass or low mass, he was never
ready to accompany her. It was too hot or too cold, 01
his corns troubled him, and she became discouraged, as
he was over eighty, and she was afraid that he would die
without the rites of the church. She was very kind-
hearted, and she made one more effort by bringing the
priest to the Home.
But some one told him, "The father is down stairs,
and is coming up to see you. Madame is bringing him."
He locked himself in the bathroom, and would not
come out. Soon after he was taken ill and died.
Some mischievous person chalked on his door : "Born
Catholic — Died Nothing."
At the German Catholic church in Mt. Vernon, there
was for many years an aged priest named Father Al-
binger. He was very much beloved. As Mt. Vernon
grew into a city, it was populous enough to call for other
Catholic churches, and only the Germans of his neigh-
borhood were left to support the church.
He lived a most austere life, wore old clothing, and
MARY FISHER HOME 105
existed so frugally that he was supposed to be very poor.
At last he became very feeble, and decided that he would
go home to Germany to die. In a few months our
French lady received a letter from him saying that he
was not happy, that he would like to return to Mt. Ver-
non, and spend the remainder of his life in our Home —
if we could accommodate him.
I answered the letter myself, telling him that we should
be pleased to receive him. The letter was returned
to me from Germany, with the word upon it, "Gestorben"
It was found that he was anything but a poor man.
He had accumulated considerable money. I .never heard
who inherited it.
A young woman in a small New Jersey town wrote
me that she was an artist, and in need of some help to
tide her over the winter. I went to see her ; I found her
very well connected, a niece of Iraneus Prime of the
Observer, one of the oldest New York periodicals.
She told me she made screens for Altman's, but as she
hadn't the necessary three dollars and a half to deposit
for the satin, she could not get the work. She said she
was in arrears for the rent of her room, and did not know
where to go.
I called on Mr. Prime, and he said that he could not
sympathize with her, because she was determined to
stick to her artistic work at which she could not make
a living, and as she could sew very nicely, he had ad-
w6 THE STORY OF THE
vised her to become a dressmaker, which she had posi-
tively refused to do, and so he had left her to herself,
and refused to help her.
The girl interested me. Her miniatures were excel-
lent, and she painted birds and flowers very beautifully.
I offered her an attic room in our Home, which she
gladly accepted ; we advanced the necessary deposit re-
quired by Altman for the satin, and she set to work at
once to paint a screen.
It was interesting to watch her process. She drew
her design on stiff brown paper, which she pinned to
the floor, and then traced the drawing with white paint.
Afterward, she fastened on to this the length of black
satin, face downwards, and then took a flat iron and
drew over it. When she lifted up the satin, she had all
the design mapped out ready for the painting. This she
tacked upon the wall of her room, and in less than a
week the screen was finished, with its birds of paradise
and tropical flowers, beautifully painted.
It was fatiguing standing up to paint the satin as it
hung on the wall, and she was often obliged to lie down
for a whole day to rest her weak back.
She had a beau, a young artist, evidently as poor as
herself — the most grotesque and odd-looking figure that
I ever saw in my life. He seemed to wear two pairs of
trousers, the under ones being longer than those out-
side, and of a much lighter color. He wore a queer-
looking hat much the worse for wear, and one day, as I
saw him standing on our stoop, I said to myself, "What
can be the matter with his coat?"
As I came nearer, I saw that at some unfortunate
moment he must have sat down on his palette, while the
paints on it were still wet, so that it gave something of
the appearance of Joseph's coat of many colors.
MARY FISHER HOME 107
One bright morning she said to me, "I am going out
after breakfast with my friend, Mr. Jackson. Whenever
he can spare fifty cents, he takes me to the Central Park
for a holiday; he buys our luncheon as we go along,
and we sit all day under the trees, sketching and talk-
ing about art."
"What does he paint ?" I asked, and she said, "Land-
scapes and sheep; he is really a genius. But he gets
discouraged, he has nowhere to exhibit his work, the
art stores won't take them unless they are beautifully
framed, and he has no money for that ; so now he sells
his little canvasses for a few dollars to some stationery
stores, and they put them in their window marked three
or four dollars, and when they sell they give him half;
they always want such a big commission."
She worked all summer on the screens, Altman had a
demand for all that she could paint. I once saw a letter
that Mr. Sloan had written to her saying that he had
seen her screens, and if she would make a design of full-
blown roses, he would like to see it. The screens were
sure money, and she continued to work on them until
she had saved a nice little sum.
One day in the early Autumn she said, "I have found
a room which I can make into a studio." I have some
furniture in storage, and my old piano, and Mr. Jackson
can sing very nicely; he has a tenor voice, and perhaps
if he will cultivate it, he may be able to get a position
in some church — the worst thing is, his clothes are so
"Yes," I said, "his clothes are very bad."
However, she took the empty room and moved her
things into it. She did not need me any more, and as
I had no time to visit her, I never heard any more of
her, except that some friends told me her uncle, Mr.
io8 THE STORY OF THE
Prime, was still angry with her, because she would not
give up the painting and turn to something more prac-
But I have found many people of the artistic tempera-
ment who prefer to live their own half-starved life, fol-
lowing their own bent, rather than try a vocation that
offered the prospect of a good income. And we ought
not to blame them. That poor girl in the French board-
ing school who loved animals so much, and spent all her
spare time drawing pictures of them, after many years
devoted to painting, became the Rosa Bonheur of world-
AN AGED FRENCH COUPLE.
I had once great expectations from an elderly lady who
wished to place an old couple in our Home. They were
French people, and nominally Roman Catholics, which
debarred them from the Protestant homes. And as the
Catholics do not build homes for the aged, as the Prot-
estants and Hebrews do, there seemed to be no place for
this old French couple, and their friend was much per-
plexed as to what to do with them.
This old Frenchman had been a ladies' shoemaker ; he
had made this lady's shoes for fifty years. He was a
most exemplary and industrious man, and saved all he
could for his old age. But his sight gave out. He could
no longer work at the shoes, but he had a good son who
kept a nice little home over the old couple. Finally, this
good son died, and they were solely dependent upon what
they had in the savings bank. They had one other son,
a poor, ne'er-do-well, who was only a source of trouble
and anxiety to them. But they couldn't turn him out.
Their good benefactress did not know for some time of
their poverty and anxiety.
MARY FISHER HOME 109
Then something terrible happened to them. This son
committed suicide. He left a letter and an insurance
policy, sealed up and addressed to his father, saying, "My
life was of no benefit to you and mother, but my death
will be, for I have insured my life for you for one thou-
sand dollars. This was the only thing I could do to help
The insurance company was very loath to pay this,
and said it would be the last time that they would pay
a suicide case. With this money, they looked round for
a home. The lady appealed to the Charity Organization
Society, of which she was a member, and they recom-
mended our Home for the old couple, because it was
non-sectarian, and the old gentleman would not be de-
barred on account of his blindness, as was the case with
other institutions. So we received the old couple for six
hundred dollars entrance fee.
THE BEQUEST THAT DIDN'T COME.
I knew that their benefactress was said to be worth
many millions ; she was a widow without children. I
never heard of anything that she did for the old couple
except to look for a home for them, and when we agreed
to take them I hoped the least she might do would be to
remember our Home in her will.
She was a very peculiar and blunt old lady, and ac-
cording to her own appointment I used to call upon her
when she was taking her luncheon, which always con-
sisted of the same things — a baked potato, a baked apple,
a cup of tea, a roll and butter. On the table beside her
was a brown paper bag — like a grocer's bag, with dollar
bills in it, and occasionally she would give me a contri-
bution out of it. "But my dear lady, we are so much in
no THE STORY OF THE
want of a building," I said, "if you cannot do anything
now, I hope you will remember us in your will."
"That depends on how you behave yourself," was her
Now she had an old butler named Joseph, a French-
man, who had lived with her many years. He seemed to
be a factotum, secretary, maid, everything, she couldn't
bear to have him out of her sight. When she had a visi-
tor, Joseph would walk up and down the hall outside her
door, which would be left ajar, and every little while she
would call out, "Joseph, Joseph, are you there? Don't
One day when I called on her, Mrs. Russell Sage came
to pay her a visit, and that lady said to me, "Because
your Home is non-sectarian you will have the same
trouble that I have had with the Woman's Hospital, you
will have no church to help you, and I find that makes a
However, I succeeded in getting the old lady to prom-
ise a contribution of five hundred dollars toward building
a wing at our Tenafly Home. Fortunately for me, Jo-
seph, the butler, was a witness to this promise, or I never
would have received it. As it was, there was consider-
able delay, and I finally went to Far Rockaway, where
she was boarding that summer, in regard to it.
As usual, the faithful Joseph was walking up and
down outside her door, keeping out all intruders, and
keeping watch for her call. She was now keeping her
bed. She was not in a very good humor; said she had
no recollection of making such a promise. I told her
that Joseph knew all about it, and she called out — "Jo-
seph, Joseph! come here."
Joseph came in, looking very solemn, and stood re-
spectfully with hisjiands behind him on one side of the
MARY FISHER HOME m
bed, while I sat on the other. She questioned Joseph
very sharply as to what he knew of the matter. He told
her very distinctly that she had promised this five hun-
"If I could only remember it," she said, "but I cannot."
"But I remember it all so distinctly," said Joseph.
It seemed rather a hopeless case, and I said, "I will
not intrude any longer today. I will come some other
time when you may feel better," and I got up to go.
"I don't forget that old couple that you were so kind
to," said Joseph, and he took out of his pocket a fifty-
dollar note which he handed to me.
"You needn't be in such a hurry," said his mistress.
"If you come again that will be wasting the extra rail-
road fare. I'd better give it to you now. Joseph, get
me my check-book," and she wrote me a check for the
In the Autumn she returned to her town house. Judge
of my astonishment when I read one morning in the
paper that Joseph was found dead. He had committed
suicide by shooting himself. I knew some French peo-
ple who were old friends of his. They told me how
kind-hearted he was, but that he deplored the terrible
monotony of his position with this old lady, and that he
sometimes felt that he must fly away from it.
When the old lady died, and her will was probated we
saw that she left two millions to the School of Theology
at Princeton. Several institutions like our own were
disappointed that they were not remembered.
U2 THE STORY OF THE
THE MONGOLIAN WAS HE A HUMBUG?
During an equinoctial storm, a small, delicate-looking
man came to our door. I was ill at the time, but my as-
sistant received him. I had advertised for some one to
help with bookkeeping and clerical work, and he had
come in answer to it. He gave him name as Edward
They told me he was wet through to the skin, as he
had no umbrella, and his low, summer shoes were wet
through. Also he had a villainous cough like one in con-
sumption. His card told us he was a missionary from
the Island of Ceylon. I ordered him put to bed at once,
and sent for our physician, who said that he was a very
sick man, and advised his being sent to Bellevue Hos-
pital. Here he was kindly cared for, and so far recov-
ered that he was able to return to us, and do a little work.
In a couple of months he was ill again and could not
leave his bed. Again the doctor ordered him to the hos-
pital. That was late one night, and the following morn-
ing my assistant went to see him.
"I feel so confused," he kept saying. "I cannot collect
She concluded that he had taken a great deal of mor-
phine, and told him she would come in the afternoon,
when his mind was clearer. When she went again about
five o'clock, they were carrying out his corpse.
All that he had brought with him was a very small
satchel, which contained some railroad time-tables, and
a photograph of a Mongolian lady, and a young lady who
looked very much like the missionary. Looking on the
MARY FISHER HOME 113
back of the photo, I saw it was taken in London, and I
wrote at once to the photographer, and asked him to try
and trace the whereabouts of this Mongolian lady.
In due time I received a letter from her. She was
evidently a lady of education and culture. She told me
that her husband had been unfortunate in investing all
his own money, and other people's, and, although he had
not done anything wrong, he was afraid of being impris-
oned, if he remained in Ceylon, and so he travelled
around the world to reach by a very circuitous route our
city of New York.
I had told her, that as Mr. Melville was a missionary,
we did not like him to be buried in Potter's Field ; that I,
and some other of the ladies of our association, had at-
tended his funeral ; that he had the services of the Epis-
copal Church, and that we buried him in a very pretty
rural cemetery called Maple Grove on Long Island.
She thanked me for the care we had given to her hus-
band. She said she was living, through the kindness of
friends in a convent, in a secluded part of England, and
she expressed the wish that we erect a monument to her
husband's memory, putting these words :
AGED 2,7 YEARS
FROM THE ISLAND OF CEYLON.
Some time after that, a portly English gentleman paid
us a visit. His card gave his address in London, but he
said he was a tea merchant doing business on the Island
of Ceylon, and that he knew this Mongolian who called
himself Edward Melville — that he was married to a
charming Mongolian lady, and had a lovely home and a
ii4 THE STORY OF THE
"I never liked the man," he said, "he needed too much
watching. Finally he got deeply into debt. Like all
Mongolians, he was a great coward, and as soon as he
found himself amenable to the law, his first thought was
to run away.
"What brought me to New York is this : I am sorry
to say that my only son is engaged to be married to this
man's daughter. When her father proved to be such a
scamp, my wife and I did all we could to persuade him
to break it off. But what can you do when a fellow is
twenty-eight years old, and his own master, and desper-
ately in love with a good-looking girl?
"We heard that a rich American woman named Fisher
employed him as a secretary, and we supposed he was
receiving a good salary; however, he never sent any
money home, so I was determined to make this port of
New York as soon as I could, and try to hunt him up."
I showed the gentleman one of the reports of our
Home, and explained to him how we had taken pity on
this poor fugitive who was dying of consumption; also
I showed him the letter of the widow requesting that he
should have a monument over his grave.
He smiled and said, "Oh, that is nothing for a Mongo-
lian to ask, for they are the greatest set of beggars in the
world. If I gave him a grave-stone, I should put on it,
here lies a Mongolian Humbug."
A WOMAN INVENTOR.
Probably it has been very truly said that many of
the useful articles belonging to our domestic economy
have been invented by women. It was they who first
MARY FISHER HOME 115
thought of the need, although they may not have been
able to work out the mechanism to its present conditions.
There came to us once a young woman who seemed to
have an inventive mind — she had devoted years to the
carrying out of various ideas that had presented them-
selves to her.
As soon as she had worked out an idea to her satis-
faction, she would take out a caveat. Then the hardest
part of her work began, and her very small income,
which she should have kept for her personal needs, was
all absorbed in travelling about trying to find a pro-
moter who would put the article on the market.
Occasionally she sold to a toy manufacturer a caveat,
and thought herself well paid when it brought her thirty
dollars, which happened I think only once in the seven
or eight years that I knew her ; and that was for a little
automatic toy representing some little animal that would
run about the floor.
Like many others of an inventive mind, she was not
very practical. Often she would be away for weeks, and
even months at a time, and then come in as late as ten
o'clock at night, travel-worn and weary, and exhausted
for want of nourishment. I was often vexed with her
at having to look up a corner and a bed for her, for she
had no money to go elsewhere.
At one time she was much benefited by the following
incident: The widow of a manufacturer looked her up,
and told her that her husband had made a success from
one of her caveats, and that it had always been on her
conscience that he owed something to the inventor, and
as he was now dead, his widow did it in his memory.
This check, whatever it was, was a wonderful boon
At this time she was working out what she called
u6 THE STORY OF THE
the wonderful invention of her life. It was one that
would convert weight into power. I saw the caveat; it
was the size and shape of a toast-rack, with the excep-
tion of innumerable small wires which crossed them-
selves in every direction. She spent much time and
money taking it round to gentlemen; who had the means
of manufacturing it, if they so desired. This time she
was two or three months away, and when she returned
to us the widow's check had been all expended in a fruit-
less effort, for she found that there was what they called
a dead centre which the machinery could not overcome —
also she learned that the same thing had been thought
However, she did not give it up, but said that it would
lay in her mind for future consideration, and in the mean-
time she employed herself on a new invention which
amused us very much.
One morning she came to me with a very bright ex-
pression on her fair face and said, "I suppose you know
that the peasantry in Europe have often used a kind of
peat for fuel because it is much cheaper than wood or
coal. It is made of dried soil which is compact, and
shaped into a kind of brick. Now I have discovered
that our American soil with a little petroleum mixed
with it, will make a very good substitute for peat. Come
to my room and I will show it to you."
On entering her apartment, I saw over by the win-
dow a large flower pot filled with earth, from the centre
of which a bright flame was emitted.
"There is a small quantity of kerosene mixed with
the earth," she said, "and I am now going to work out
the proportions. The earth costs nothing and the oil
very little, so I believe, if it is properly manufactured,
it will make a very cheap and desirable fuel."
MARY FISHER HOME u;
Soon after this a relative in a distant State sent for
her to come and claim her right of a small bequest, and
it was a relief to us when she took her departure.
A CASE OF INSANITY.
One day a lady wrote to me —
"Dear Miss Fisher :
"Will you accommodate for a short time in your
Home a young lady who comes to the city to look for a
position? As she is a stranger in New York, it will be
a sort of protection for her, and it will relieve my mind
of some anxiety, for she is 'so young and so fair,' and
not accustomed to city ways.
"She is not without funds, but has means sufficient
to meet all her obligations. I knew her parents ; she was
an only child, and had every advantage that well-to-do
people could give her. She seems bent on having a
I found the young lady a very pleasing girl about
twenty. Before she had been a month with me I saw
how gifted she was in many ways. She wrote good
sketches and stories, made her dresses and hats, and em-
broidered the most beautiful linens we had ever seen.
These she hoped to dispose of at the big stores, and get
orders for more. She worked day and night on them
with great patience, was never idle a minute. When
others played cards in the evening or read for their
amusement, she would sit with her work diligently
But the stores did not want her work ; they had a stock
on hand, or they didn't want to pay the price.
n8 THE STORY OF THE
But she didn't seem at all discouraged and said, "I
shall keep them to make presents to my friends. I don't
need the money, but I thought I should like to be a
business woman. I shall seek occupation in some other
She watched the papers, and also advertised for a
clerkship in an office, and came home one day to tell
me she had secured a position in the office of a church
paper. The salary was a fair one for a beginner, and
she was delighted.
I knew the proprietor of this paper — one of the oldest
church periodicals in New York.
"What kind of work will they give you to do?" I
"I am to examine what comes in for the woman's page
and children's column, make corrections, and pass them
on to the next reader."
Before the week was out, I noticed that she did not
go out as usual and I mentioned this to her. She raised
her fair face to me and said with eyes filled with tears
as she shook her head :
"I liked the work so much, but it was impossible for
me to stay, and preserve my self-respect. Mr.
is not a good man, so I hurried away from his flowers
and his flattery. I am sure I was right."
"Of course you were," I said, but I was shocked. I
had known that gentleman for many years.
The next day she came to me and said, "I shall now
devote myself to the looking up of my brother and sis-
ter; they are somewhere in the city. First I shall look
among the hotels, and if I don't find them there, I shall
look among the apartment houses where you find the
people's names at the door.
I missed her for two or three days and felt anxious
MARY FISHER HOME up
about her. Finally I wrote to her friend who had in-
troduced her to me, and this was the answer I received :
"Dear Miss Fisher :
"That singular case of the young girl who was ar-
rested must be this very girl. She called on some people
in an apartment house and declared they were relatives
of hers. She stayed all day and when night came she
was so excited that they were obliged to have her ar-
rested as a disturber of the peace, and she is now in safe
keeping, but I want you to accommodate her and my-
self for a few days, while I put her things together, and
pack her off to relatives, who have a right to take care
In a few days a bright young man called and told me
that he would try to persuade her to go home with him,
for she was his young wife ; he had known her from the
time she was a little girl, that as a child she had strange
delusions which afflicted her every few months. He had
always been very fond of her, and hoped that when they
were married he could make her happy. He entreated
her most affectionately to return home with him. I
thought she would surely be touched by his manner,
for his distress was so genuine, although he strove to
keep up, and manfully fight against it.
Finally her guardian came for her and said : "She has
had her last chance — she is incurable. I believe some
people are born insane, and she certainly is one of them.
She must be taken care of for the rest of her lifetime."
I was glad to discover that she had never been to that
church paper. They had never seen such a girl. I have
heard from her occasionally through the intervening
years. She writes beautiful, long letters, always ending
120 THE STORY OF THE
with what she calls her daily prayer — that I will take
her back and let her live the rest of her lifetime in our
One case always amuses me as I look back upon it.
A man, who was evidently a gentleman, asked us to
take care of his wife while they were moving, as she was
an invalid. He did not prove to be very honorable; he
neglected to come to see her, and paid no attention to
our letters. She was a charming little lady, very fond of
her husband, and deeply grieved at his negligence.
"He is kind to me when I am with him," she said, "but
when I am out of his sight, he forgets all about me.
He has done this several times. If I were not as help-
less as I am, I would go to him at once, and he would
not have the heart to turn me away."
I found he was boarding in a stylish house in West
23rd Street. I knew there was only one thing to be
done ; I found a boarding house opposite to him, where
they could accommodate the lady; I paid a deposit on
her week's board, and, ordering a carriage, I placed her
and her belongings in it, and took her to her new abode.
I then left a note at her husband's boarding house, say-
ing that he would find his wife in the house opposite.
Such cases put us to some expense, but it was the only
course open to us.
HUSBANDS DE TROP.
Once a stylish-looking young lady called on me to ask
if we could accommodate an old gentleman. He would
give very little trouble, and she would like him to stay
MARY FISHER HOME 121
all the winter. As we had a boarding department to-
ward the support of our Home, I showed her one of our
best rooms, but she said a very small apartment would
be sufficient, as he was very simple in his tastes, and she
selected the smallest and cheapest room that we could
When she was leaving, she told me that this was her
husband, that she was going on a round of visits, and
didn't like to leave him at home with the servants in case
he should get sick. She brought him the next day. As
he got out of the carriage, I saw how very old and feeble
he was, and no wonder, for he was between eighty and
ninety years of age. He had a handsome and very
kindly face, and often looked wistfully at her, and he
seemed much moved when she hurriedly bade him good-
"Did my wife tell you how often she was coming to
see me?" he asked the next morning. But I had no an-
swer to give him.
"I suppose she will write me very often," he added.
But she never wrote, except to send the check for his
board, and then scrawled a few words saying, "I presume
he is all right ; give him my love."
Once their coachman came to see him.
"The 'missus' told me not to let any one know where
he was. Poor old man. He made a big mistake marry-
ing that 'ere girl. He was an old bachelor, about sixty-
five — she was a doctor's daughter poor enough too — glad
enough to get him. He lavished everything on her, and
is awful fond of her, and he never let on to any one how
bad she treated him. Sometimes he didn't see her the
whole day. She has all the money she wants and that is
all she cares for."
For the first week or two, he would often say, "I think
122 THE STORY OF THE
my wife will come today or tomorrow, and take me for
a drive, because she promised to."
But she never came.
Poor old gentleman, he no longer took any interest in
the newspaper, and it was plain to be seen that he was
pining for his wife and his home, and the tears would
often be in his eyes when he asked me if I had heard
from her lately. Finally he lost his appetite, and had a
low fever, and I sent for a physician whose name I had
heard him mention. The old gentleman was surprised
and delighted to see him.
When the doctor was leaving he said to me aside, "You
tell that woman that she must take the old gentleman
home, that I say he is a very sick man, and he won't live
very long." She came in quite a hurry and seemed very
"I don't see who could have told that doctor that he
was here," she said. "You could have given him some
quieting draught when you found him worrying, and that
would have saved all this fuss."
As soon as he saw her his face brightened, and he held
out his feeble arms imploringly. She kissed him hastily
on the forehead, and began to pick up his few belong-
ings, and I was very glad to see him drive off and know
that he had the satisfaction of going to his home, which
was a beautiful one in Larchmont. The house was quite
a mansion which stood in a large park.
Some three weeks after I saw in the papers the death
of this old gentleman.
At another time a similar case presented itself, al-
though under different auspices.
"I take paying guests in the summer — many of them
are friends of mine," said the lady whose husband was a
very old man. "And it will be better for me to board
MARY FISHER HOME 123
out Mr. R. for the season. It gives me and my daugh-
ter very nice pin-money for the rest of the year. We
can always clear some seven hundred dollars by it."
The old gentleman came, but not very willingly; he
was wonderfully hale and hearty for a man over eighty
years of age. There was a great deal of coaxing and
cajoling on the part of the wife and daughter, but with
very little success, so far as making the old gentleman
contented away from his home.
When he had been a month with us, he wrote them
that he had given them a rest, and intended to come
home. But they sent word that the house was full, every
available room occupied, and there wasn't a corner for
him, and that I was in nowise to let him come.
But he only smiled as he counted the change in his
pocketbook, and found that he had fifty cents.
"By taking six trolleys I can get home to Stamford,"
he said, as he bade us good-bye, "and please send my
trunk by express."
When our home in New York was in its beginning,
Mrs. J. Hood Wright asked me to take a young girl who
was very clever, but in poor health after an operation in
the hospital. Mrs. Wright agreed to contribute a dollar
per week, and thought we might find a few other ladies
to do the same. She brought the young girl in her car-
riage, and before she went away she called me aside and
"Really that girl is wonderfully clever. Ask her to
tell you about her pictures, she has a number that she
can show you."
124 THE STORY OF THE
The next day I asked the girl about her work, and
she brought me a book of the Pacific Railroad, giving
beautiful views of places through which it passed.
"I sat on that boulder when I took that view," she
said, indicating a point of rock in the Andes, "I had
strange experiences there. Once the wind took my ma-
terials away. Once I slipped down the mountain, but
caught myself on a twig; it was so strong that I could
pull myself up with it. The company said that I was
the best artist that they had ever had."
She looked me full in the face with those lovely dark
eyes of hers. Rachael, of Bible story, could not have
been more beautiful than this young Jewess, and al-
though I doubted the truth of her story, I was deeply
interested in her, and I asked her to tell me about herself.
"Where were you before you went to the Hood
Wright Hospital?" I asked.
"With the Episcopal sisters in 17th Street," she an-
swered. "I am the show patient of a noted physician.
Whenever he has a rich patient to treat for scrofula, he
sends for me, and I tell them what a splendid cure he
made of me, and this gives them confidence in him, so
that they consent to be operated upon. I had a letter
from him yesterday, he said he is going to send his car-
riage for me today.
But this doctor did not come.
I noticed that in speaking of him she sometimes men-
tioned him as a young man just entering upon his ca-
reer, and at other times he was an old man, a specialist,
who took only scrofula patients.
I told her she reminded me of the skull of St. Peter,
which they show in some of the churches in Catholic
countries, and when you ask how could two or three
churches have the same skull, you are told that one is
MARY FISHER HOME 125
his skull when he was a young man, and the others when
he was of maturer years.
One of the sisterhood where they had been taking care
of her called to see her, being still interested in her.
"We were anxious to know where she went when she
left our hospital," said the sister. "We liked the girl
very much, but she is so dreadfully untruthful ; she tells
continually the most awful falsehoods; a perfectly good,
moral girl otherwise we feel sure, but with this terrible
vice." And the tears filled her eyes.
This was a young hospital sister who had lately en-
tered the order — full of compassion and love for her
work, and was grieved to think of this great sin in so
young a girl. But she had yet to learn that it was not a
vice, not a sin in this poor girl.
She had received so much morphine that her poor
delicate brain was no longer responsible for its action.
However, there is one thing that we have to give this
girl credit for — she never spoke ill of any one. Her vivid
imagination ran on the good side of things. She de-
famed no one; no word of malice ever left her lips, she
exaggerated all kindness that any one had ever shown
The scrofula was in one foot, and she was soon obliged
to go again to a hospital for treatment. She had a father
living, who finally placed her in the Montefiore Home.
THE OLD PLAYWRIGHT.
I often had occasion to notice how wonderfully free
from care are some who are entirely dependent upon
others for their support. One old playwright introduced
to us by the Actors' Fund had written many successful
plays. He was always writing new plays, but of late had
126 THE STORY OF THE
lost the necessary brain power to do good work, owing
he confessed to the use of stimulants. Sometimes he
would show me a letter from some manager at a dis-
tance asking for a new play, but they were always re-
turned to him. However, nothing troubled him, and he
kept on writing, for he generally could find some one to
beg or borrow paper and ink from, or the price of it.
We had two physicians who attended our Home, one
allopathist, and the other of the homeopathic school.
They were willing to volunteer their services, but we
always preferred to pay a small fee. I found that the
old playwright was going to both these physicians, and
I said to him, "You mustn't do this; we can't afford to
pay two doctors to attend to you ; you must keep to one
only." "But, my dear madame," he answered with his
usual happy smile, "I am obliged to do this. I want to
know what is the matter with me, and if they both tell
me the same thing, I shall believe it, and I am waiting
until they have both diagnosed my case; if they don't
agree in their opinion, I shall turn my back forever on
the medical profession."
A GIRL FROM THE WEST.
One day I received from the West the following letter :
"Dear Miss Fisher:
"I saw an account of your Home in a newspaper, and
thought perhaps you could help me. I am sixteen years
old, and strong and healthy, and I want to earn my living,
but I don't want to be a servant. I should like to be in
a store, but the town is two miles from here, and I
MARY FISHER HOME 127
couldn't pay my board in the town, as they pay beginners
only a dollar a week. My parents keep a sort of road-
house. My mother expects me to wash dishes, and help
cook and she doesn't pay me any wages, though she
makes good money. She buys my clothes, but they are
always of the cheap, old-fashioned style, and I am so
I answered her letter, and advised her to help her
mother as cheerfully as she could, and something might
open up in the future, and hoped she would find some
friend much nearer than I was.
In about a month, I received another letter from her
in which she said:
"It was so kind of you to answer my letter, and if you
don't mind, I shall tell you of a queer thing that happened
to me. One hot day, when I was sitting crying on our
porch, a nice-looking buggy drove up to our door, and a
gentleman jumped out.
"He said, 'I was making a deposit in the bank in the
town, and asked if they could tell me of a place where I
could get a dinner in this locality, and they told me of
your house. So if you could give me my rations, and a
feed for my horse, and let me take a wash-up at your
pump, I am willing to pay two dollars for it.'
"He wiped the perspiration from his forehead; he
looked such a gentleman that I didn't like to have him
wash at the pump, and wipe on the same towel with the
common men, so I said, 'Wait a minute,' and I fixed my
room with clean towels and soap, and put them in there
with my father's foot-bath full of fresh cold water.
While he was washing, I fixed up a little table for him
apart from the other men. My mother looked angry at
me, but I whispered, 'Two dollars,' and went away. I
128 THE STORY OF THE
know it is rude to stare at people while they are eating,
but he seemed to want to talk. I said to him, 'My
father's whole thought is to raise money to have a sheep
ranch in Mexico. He says that any man can double his
money every year there, on sheep.'
" 'Well, I doubt it, unless he had a very large number,'
he answered. 'He would be sure to lose on a small quan-
"I replied 1 , 'He thinks I ought to help my mother with
the dish-washing and cooking. I didn't mind it when I
was fourteen, but now I'm sixteen, I do.'
" 'Your father ought to pay you some wages,' he con-
tinued, 'although now I come to think of it, I don't know
but what he is right about your helping your mother.
My little best friend helps her mother on Saturdays be-
cause she is not at school, but then her parents buy her
beautiful dresses, and when I can get the time to take
her to church, I tell you all the fellows look at us, and I
expect we make a fine-looking couple.'
"'Is that your handwriting in that copybook?' he
asked. 'Yes, isn't it good ? I never went to school after
I was ten years old,' I answered.
" 'It might be better. You begin all your letters at
the bottom and give them a queer sort of twist, whereas
you should begin at the top. My best little girl doesn't
write an elegant hand, and I tell her that fine, beautiful
handwriting is one of the lost arts, that any lady should
be proud of. Learn to make the Greek E. It is best.
I have a great respect for those Greek fellows, how they
worked, and got nothing for it but a wreath of laurels,
and often not even that.'
"He took from his inside pocket a letter, and after
reading it all over carefully, he handed it over to me say-
ing, 'I don't mind your reading what she writes to me.
MARY FISHER HOME 129
We write quite often ; she writes three letters to my one.
I believe that women write when they have nothing to
say, and the men only when they have something to say.'
" 'And so your name is Hagadorn,' he continued.
" 'Yes, a horrid name,' I answered.
" 'Don't kick at your name,' he said. 'When I went
through the old cemetery on Staten Island, where the
old Vanderbilts are buried, I found the name of Haga-
dorn as plentiful as blackberries on a bush. You don't
mind being related to the Vanderbilts do you?'
"That made me laugh. I said I wished they could
find me some nice work to do.
" 'Let me tell you something,' he said. 'If you will be
guided by me, I can teach you a kind of work that will
not be a trade, but a profession.'
"I said I should like that very much. 'Perhaps you
don't know,' he continued, 'but it is said that the profes-
sional people are the aristocracy of this country — the
parson, the doctor, the lawyer, the actor, the artist, the
teacher, the trained nurse. Have you read the life of
that noble and wonderful woman, Florence Nightingale,
who made nursing a profession?'
" 'I haven't read anything,' I replied. 'The library is
in the town two miles off, and it takes me two hours to
walk there and two hours back, and it tires me out. But
I shouldn't like to nurse the sick.'
" 'Neither should I. It can't be very pleasant to listen
to the grunts and groans of people. I know when I am
sick, I wish I were dead and out of it all. But this is
work I think you would like. It requires strength, pa-
tience and industry. I have taught it to three young
women who are delighted with it, and it brings them a
respectable living. I won't tell you now which profes-
130 THE STORY OF THE
sion it belongs to, but if you succeed with your appren-
ticeship, I will tell you. Now do you want to learn?'
" 'I said I should be very thankful.'
" 'But you must read good books,' he added ; 'they are
the best companions. I shall bring you some the next
time I come this way, and I will bring you the tools for
your work. You will find me a hard teacher — you may
shed a few tears — sometimes — girls cry so easily; but
stick to it, and you will be glad in the end. Your father
can inquire about me at the bank if he wants to.'
"He looked at me with those honest eyes of his, and
before he went he talked awhile with my father.
"Oh! how I longed for the time to come when he
would be here again with those tools that he talked about.
At last the day came. He brought a small pasteboard,
the same as you roll out pastry on. Little hardwood
pegs were driven in all around it; he handed me a pair
of plyers and said, 'You must draw out these little pegs,
so perfectly straight that the hole will be left perfectly
round, and the peg must not be bent. Now try it.' Af-
ter a good deal of effort I got one out, but I made sorry
work of it. Then he took one out, clean and nice as a
"When he and his horse had had their dinner, and he
had settled for it, he took his leave.
"Week after week I worked away at the pegs. My
arm used to ache up to the shoulder, and the dish-washing
and the sweeping seemed easy work after that. How-
ever, I kept on. Sometimes he scolded me and it was hard
to keep the tears out of my eyes, and once he rapped my
knuckles with the plyers. Before he went away he said,
'Men don't make as patient teachers as the women do.
I know a young lady who went to Germany to study the
piano under one of those big masters, and he was so
MARY FISHER HOME 131
cross that she cried more than half the time, but she came
out all right in the end, and so will you.'
"I worked hard at those little pegs for four months,
then he brought me a fresh board with a new row of
little pegs round it. They had little pieces of lead in
them like so many little eyes. This lead I was to pick
out with the instrument he brought me. I spent six
months at this work.
"Afterwards he gave me two books on anatomy, so
that I might study the nerves of the whole head.
"My father sold some cattle and paid me some wages
for the housework, and I have enough now to take me
to New York to the Dental College where I can learn to
become a full-fledged dentist. My friend, Mr. Sinclair,
says I have made a splendid beginning."
This girl came to New York. I advised her to board
at one of the homes for young girls, where she would
be just a walk from the college and save carfare.
As soon as she got her diploma, she went back to the
country, and opened an office of her own in one of the
flourishing towns there. In her last letter to me she
"I would prefer to see the most delicate woman enter
my office rather than a great big strong man, for the men
are more nervous than the women, and make the most
fuss at a little pain."
A MAN WITH A PAST.
One of the most disagreeable duties that I had to en-
counter was to go one day to the morgue to look over
the dead bodies, to see if I could find that of an old
lawyer who had died in the street from a fall, and noth-
ing was found upon him to tell where he belonged. He
132 THE STORY OF THE
had been many years in the employ of the Custom House.
He had been a man of means, had lived many years apart
from his wife, now deceased, and in his old age had put
his affairs in the hands of his children, who looked after
him, and found boarding places for him which seldom
suited him, and he was constantly changing from one
place to another, which gave them considerable trouble,
as they lived far away from him.
They thought our Home would be the very best place
for him, as he would have a little care and attention if
he felt sick. They did not come to see him, but wished
him to be comfortable, and he could well afford to pay
I soon found him to be one of the peculiar. He would
not take his meals in the general dining-room — he said
the old ladies near him insisted on handing him the
dishes, and he didn't want their attention; he preferred
to have a servant wait on him. As we had several houses
connecting, I was able to accommodate him with the
front basement of the adjoining house for his private
use, which he used as dining and sitting room, and could
be alone by himself.
About this time there came to us a woman as a sort
of working housekeeper; she offered me her services in
return for her husband's board. She was about forty;
at first, there was something repellant about her, for her
countenance was anything but prepossessing. She had
a bad defect in her vision, but as she talked to me, I was
better disposed to give her a trial.
She seemed very anxious to take good care of her hus-
band who was about her own age, but looked sad and
melancholy. She said it took all her efforts to keep him
from sinking into despondency since he lost his grip on
the business world. She wore very shabby clothes, but
MARY FISHER HOME 133
kept him well dressed. Through her influence over him,
she got him to do some book-keeping and accounts for
me; he seemed quite indifferent as to any compensation
for the same. I found her very industrious, remarkably
neat and reliable. She was well informed upon many
points in domestic economy, and often insisted on find-
ing something to do, when I told her that she would
better be resting herself. She was very cheerful, and
had a strong sense of humor. She had received a good
education, and I often wondered what her past had been,
and whether her husband was the same sad, melancholy
man when she married him; and, if he had sufficient at
that time to support a wife, why did he marry such a
plain-looking woman whose appearance had nothing to
recommend her but her figure? She was tall, well pro-
portioned, and those who seemed to know, said she
would have satisfied the dream of a sculptor.
She was very jocular, and when I had time to listen
she would tell me some amusing little incidents in her
"I always wanted us to live in a community," she said,
"and I thought the Shakers at Lebanon would suit us
splendidly, and I was determined to get there if possible.
So by degrees I saved up the money, and we started off.
We were there several months, but there were such
funny things there going on, that it often made me
laugh, and I was called before the council and warned
that I must be more decorous, that I was too full of
levity, and that it was against the laws and tenets of
their faith. After that I tried to control myself, and I
thought I behaved remarkably well. But, alas ! in a little
while we were turned out. You would have to be a
mere machine to live among them."
As the work assigned her did not take in the house
134 THE STORY OF THE
where the old lawyer had his bedroom, there was no
opportunity for some time for their meeting each other.
But once, when he came in to see me — he often came to
consult me about some little trifling thing — just as he
was coming in at the door, she happened to be passing
out. When the door had closed upon her he stood for
a while in silence, and seemed trying to speak, but was
too excited, and he trembled so that I got up and of-
fered him a chair. He pushed me away, saying, "Where
did you get that woman? Why do I find her here? If
it wasn't for disgracing my family, I would expose her,
and prosecute her as she deserves."
I was puzzled as I reflected upon the matter. Before
I had come to any conclusion, she said one morning,
"When you have a minute to spare, let me speak to you."
I thought she might have heard what the old gentle-
man had said, and that she would refer to it, but all she
said was, "I have seen an ad. in the paper for an assistant
in an institution. I know something of the place, that
they pay well, and if I can get the position I can pay my
husband's board somewhere near me." I wrote her a
reference in regard to her work, but the superintendent
came to see me and said, "I have heard that it would not
be best to engage her, although she has many good quali-
ties. As to the rest, the less said the better."
She left us with her melancholy husband, and I have
not heard of them since.
It was a very windy morning when the old lawyer
went out to take his usual walk, and when he was a few
blocks away, a gentleman saw his hat blow off, and in
trying to run after it, he fell down and struck his head
on the curbstone, and was picked up dead. Toward
evening it occurred to the gentleman that he had seen
such an old gentleman on our street, and he wrote me
about the accident.
MARY FISHER HOME 135
I was not long identifying him at the morgue. His
son, who lived many miles off, sent for the remains. It
devolved upon me to go to the Coroner and claim the
few belongings that were found in the pockets of the
deceased — his watch, keys, etc., which I forwarded to
To my astonishment I saw in the Coroner the doctor
who was our family physician when I was a girl. I re-
member what great effort he had made to obtain this
office, and how his patients had voted for him, because
they saw how anxious he was to be elected.
"It isn't that I care so much for the post," he said,
"but I want to show the city what a coroner ought to
do, and what can be done."
And all who knew him best were confident of his
honest intentions and integrity and the uprightness of
his character, which was more than they could say of
some of the present coroners.
However, he was defeated. The Jewish girls on our
block used to say, "No wonder he didn't get in; I guess
the people want a good-looking man and he is so awfully
ugly he would frighten a corpse."
"And he's too out-spoken," said another. "When my
dear mother died after such a long illness, the first thing
he said to my father was 'Better for her, better for you.'
He is too blunt to be a doctor."
They used to say that he wished very much to be mar-
ried, but was determined to wait until he could find a girl
with money, "and he never will do that," said one of the
girls "because he is so ugly."
There was a very pretty young lady, an invalid, who
lived opposite to us, and at certain hours of the day she
could be seen sitting at a window, and looking out upon
the street. The girls said she was in love with the doctor,
136 THE STORY OF THE
that she found him so entertaining, for he played the
piano most divinely, was very well read, and could tell
amusing stories of his travels in foreign countries, and
that she did not find him at all bad-looking. She was
a Gentile, but would have married him if her father
would have permitted it. Her name was Pauline, and
once when they joked him about her he remarked, "She
loves me and I love her, and if I ever marry and have
any children I will call my eldest child Paul if it's a boy,
and Pauline if it's a girl."
A couple of years after he went to Germany and
brought back a good-looking young wife.
I inquired after her; he invited me to call on them
saying, "We have one child, I want you to see him. Paul
is a fine fellow, and we are proud of him."
I laughed. "And so you gave him that Christian
name." I said, "I should have expected to hear Abraham,
Isaac or Jacob. Was your wife willing?"
"I didn't ask her. Why should I?"
"Did she know about Miss Pauline, your patient, who
used to watch for you at the window ?"
"It was one of the first things that I told her — I knew
she would hear of it, so I told her myself."
"And she is not jealous?"
"Certainly not. She is a sensible girl; she often goes
out with a young friend of ours, and one day he said to
me, "I feel very much honored, that you should trust
your wife with me."
"You?" I answered, "I wouldn't trust you the length
of my finger, but I can trust my wife. No, she is not
jealous. A woman with a jealous disposition should
never marry a doctor, for she may have plenty of oppor-
tunity, and she should make up her mind to this before
hand, or there's no happiness for her."
MARY FISHER HOME 137
THE DEADLY FEUD.
I thought best to make it one of the rules of our
Home that all discussions upon religion and politics
should be avoided that might tend to the discomfiture
of any one of the guests. However, strange to say, only
one quarrel occurred during all the years of our Home,
but that one was disastrous indeed.
Two old gentlemen, each from old American families,
men who had been loyal to the North all through the
Civil War, and both college men, went out one day to
cast their vote at the time of election for President. One
was a Republican, the other a Democrat. So fierce was
the conflict that they never spoke to each other again
during the five years that they lived together under the
same roof and ate at the same table — they never inter-
changed a word.
"What is the great difference of ze Republican and ze
Democrat that make those two old gentlemans never
talk together?" said an old German lady to me one day.
I answered, "I cannot tell you, Madame, for I do not
A STRANGE CUSTOM.
From what nation or people do we Americans derive
the custom of dressing up the dead?
This set me thinking when two old gentlemen died
in our Home. One was an American lawyer; his son
wrote to me, "You will find a new suit of clothing in my
father's tnyik. Please tell the undertaker to see that
everything is done as it should be and send the bill
138 THE STORY OF THE
The other old gentleman was an Englishman. His
daughter wrote me, "Please have a new nightshirt put
on the remains and forward them to me. We do not
like the American custom of dressing a corpse in all
their clothes. It does not look like peaceful sleep." I
could not help contrasting the appearance of the remains
of these two old gentlemen. The American wore his
best dress suit with studs and cuff-buttons as though
he were ready to rise up and go to a party, while the old
Englishman appeared to be in a peaceful sleep. Where
did we get this unreasonable custom of dressing up the
AN UNKNOWN WOMAN.
One of our guests was a gentleman who had once
been a man of means, and enjoyed a sufficient income
to give him the advantages of the best cultured society,
but reckless investments so depleted his fortune that he
was finally reduced to three hundred dollars per annum,
all that was left to him of his last venture in a ranch in
the far South.
He read a great deal, but he craved something more
to entertain him. He sorely missed the companionship
he had been accustomed to, and would gladly have mar-
ried again, but twenty-five dollars per month did not en-
courage him to think of this.
In looking round for diversion he sometimes found
in the daily papers something that took his attention.
At one time there was a celebrated case before the
public, and many letters to the editors appeared in re-
gard to it. Among these letters there were several
signed "J. M., Redbank, N. J." These letters were the
best of a great many. It was evident that the writer
had a clear and correct idea of justice. Some said that
MARY FISHER HOME i 39
such brilliant ideas must come from a man, a lawyer
probably, long versed in jurisprudence. Our friend felt
convinced that these splendid passages came from the
pen of a woman, and he had a burning desire to find
out the personality of this "J. M.," of Redbank, N. J.
"You'd better be careful or you may get left," one of
our guests said to him. "When I was in the army we
used to amuse ourselves with a sort of would-be cor-
respondence with some fair one we met with through
the papers. I had a number of letters from a would-be
lady which amused me very much. When the war was
over and we were coming home this "lady" proposed
that I should meet her at her hotel. But I knew better;
I knew if I went there I should probably meet a man
who would laugh in my face. So I wrote a final letter
saying that the correspondence had given me much
pleasure, but we would have to discontinue it as I was
engaged to be married."
However, nothing could deter our friend from making
an effort to become acquainted with this interesting
"Why don't you go' down to Redbank and try to hunt
her up through the post office, the hotels, and the board-
ing houses?" was the advice another gave him.
He raised his eyebrows and with that comical smile
of his answered, "When I have paid my board and laun-
dry, and the woman for mending my socks, and put a
bit of silver into the plate at church, there isn't much
balance out of twenty-five dollars to take me to Red-
bank to skirmish round after a woman that I might
never find. No, a few sheets of paper and some postage
stamps will have to do the work."
Through his indomitable perseverance, finally he pos-
sessed himself of the fact that "J. M.," of Redbank, was
140 THE STORY OF THE
a lady. This was a great satisfaction to him. They cor-
responded regularly once a week, taking up various sub-
jects for discussion.
At one time it was "The Right of Way." In Europe
it is the rule to "keep to the left," but in this country it
is "keep to the right." The lady declared that it was
most natural and reasonable to follow the term implied
and keep to the right.
However, our friend, who had lived in Europe, and
motored much in France, could show reason why the
rule of "keep to the left" was the better one, and he ex-
plained how accidents were averted by this rule. His
argument not only convinced but pleased the lady, who
said that she was always so glad to learn.
At one time they took up the life of the first Napoleon.
The lady had evidently become imbued with the history
of Abbott, who makes the great soldier a humanitarian,
who hated war and carnage, who wished to make con-
quests in order to benefit the countries conquered. Our
friend preferred to agree with Sir Walter Scott and Car-
lyle, who saw in this man an overwhelming ambition that
nothing could satisfy.
As neither would give in to the other, and they found
that they were going round in a circle, they both agreed
to drop the subject. But it had brought them to a more
friendly intercourse, and our friend looked forward to
something more than this. He ventured to send his
photograph, and asked the favor of hers in return.
She returned his immediately, making no comments
whatever about his request for hers. This was not very
encouraging, but still he kept on hoping for better times.
He had never been able to learn her name, or anything
about her, except that she was "J. M.," of Redbank, N. J.
When he was becoming tired of history and science,
MARY FISHER HOME 141
he inferred that it would give him great pleasure if they
could take up a very popular romance that had been
lately written by a popular author, in which a deserted
wife could not make up her mind as to where her duty
lay — whether to remain isolated from the world where
her husband had left her, or accept the offer of her lover
to go with him where there would be joy and happiness.
The conclusion of "J- M.," of Redbank, was that the
lady might not find joy and happiness in her new com-
panionship, her memory might keep travelling back to
former years, and it might be better for her to remain
where she was, and learn to find peace which would take
the place of the happiness she forfeited.
When he attempted to write in a more intimate vein,
with the hope that they might one day become better
acquainted, she gave him to understand that, although
she was alone, she was not free, that if they continued
to correspond, it must be on the same old conditions.
When some six or eight months had passed, she wrote
that circumstances compelled her to leave Redbank, and
that the correspondence must cease.
He now wrote that he would ask her for one last favor.
And that was that they might meet — just once only, that
he might see the lady whose letters had given him so
much pleasure. She appointed a day when she would
be entering the Central Park in New York from the
East 72nd Street gate at ten o'clock in the morning, that
she was tall, dressed in black, but would not be able to
speak to him, as it would necessitate explanations to the
companion who would accompany her.
Full of expectation our friend was there at the ap-
pointed time. Very few people came to the Park
through that gate at that early hour, but finally a lady
and gentleman came. The man was a tall, distinguished-
142 THE STORY OF THE
looking person. The lady was a handsome woman
dressed in black, and the thin veil over her face did not
disguise her features. But she never looked up, so our
friend had no opportunity of catching her eye to have
the satisfaction of knowing that she saw him. This was
not very pleasing to him, as he considered himself very
good-looking, and he had taken particular pains with his
toilet on that morning.
A DISTINGUISHED GUEST.
One of our most interesting guests was Mr. Arthur
Lumley — whose obituary notices have been in many of
our daily papers, for he was well known to the press as
a painter and illustrator. He was staff artist for Leslie's
Weekly with the army of the Potomac during the Civil
War. He wrote and illustrated for the Illustrated Lon-
don News, the Graphic and Fine Arts. He was the
founder of the Society of American Painters in Water
Colors, and had been a frequent exhibitor at the Royal
Academy of London. He was a personal friend of Mr.
Thomas Nast, the cartoonist, with whom he had been
a fellow student at the National Academy of Design.
In his latter years, he was afflicted with impaired sight,
being condemned for two years to a dark room and idle-
ness — which to one of his active temperament was a
But he tried to be so cheerful under it. Every morn-
ing after breakfast he would come to me for an exchange
of greeting, and I always appreciated the advantage
of hearing his opinions of authors and their works,
for he was widely read, and had travelled so extensively.
Those in the Home who knew him best feel his loss. He
died at the age of seventy-five. He was never married.
MARY FISHER HOME 143
One of the saddest cases that has ever been known
in the annals of the White Slave traffic is the following :
"Your nurse always looks so sad," said a visitor to
me. "That is what several have remarked," I answered.
"She is not so very young, and if it is a love affair, one
would think she would have enough control of herself
not to parade her doleful face in public. She should
keep it for her private room."
"Well, it is a love affair," was the answer. I noticed
that her eyes were filled with tears sometimes as she
went mechanically about her work in my room.
One day I said to her, "Won't you tell me what makes
you so sad? Sometimes it makes one feel better to
tell one's sorrows to some one." She knelt down on the
floor by my bedside, so as to whisper in my ear. "It is
a great secret, but if I could not speak of it to some one,
I often feel as though my heart would burst."
"I was nursing in one of our first families. The
mother, a lovely lady, had pneumonia. The daughter, a
bright and beautiful girl, used to insist upon relieving
me at night. I was the night nurse, and we were thrown
much together. The poor lady was very ill, her life
despaired of, and they appreciated so much the way in
which I treated the case, that after the lady recovered,
they made me stay awhile and take a long rest.
«Mj ss took me to matinees with her. She was
a very lively girl, and I saw her in all her bright beauty.
One evening she said to me, 'Now, I'm determined to
have some fun.' She dressed me in one of her beautiful,
expensive, imported dresses, and soon I found myself in
the midst of a most elite company.
144 THE STORY OF THE
"After supper there was a dance. Miss took
me up and down the long drawing room with her, say-
ing we were the 'gold dust twins,' which created much
merriment. The evening ended with a masquerade
dance in which we all appeared in masques and
"When the daughter related the events of the evening
to her mother at the breakfast table next day, which
must have been at about 2 o'clock in the afternoon, her
mother said that no newspaper account of any such
thing had amused her so much in many a long day.
"Ah ! she was such a bright and beautiful girl, that
daughter! 'I must get away from here,' I said. 'So
much recreation and inactivity will demoralize me. I
shall pack up at once. It is high time I got back to
"These good people soon got me a position among
their friends. I was very happy in my new situation,
but, judge of my horror, when one morning one of the
household knocked at my door before breakfast, to show
me a paragraph in the morning's paper, which told me
that the beautiful girl whom I had learned to respect
and love so dearly, had been kidnapped in the middle
of the day, in broad daylight.
" 'In less than a week,' my employer said to me, 'We
shall have to lose you. That poor mother is ill from
weeping and worry, and as you have been her nurse
before, you are the right one to take care of her now.'
"I couldn't hesitate, and was soon at the bedside of
that sorrow-stricken mother. I saw a great change in
both parents. They looked so worn and so much older,
and no wonder, when we consider the terrible strain they
had been under.
" 'Of course, she has been kidnapped for a ransom,'
MARY FISHER HOME 145
said the father, as he bent with loving care over the bed
of his poor wife, 'and as we have heard nothing, it is
evident that they couldn't see their way clear without
discovery. They have probably killed the girl, and car-
ried her body to some distant, far away place for hid-
ing.' 'No, no,' cried the poor mother, 'my darling child
would not die without finding an opportunity to com-
municate with the mother who loves her so dearly.'
" 'I have employed the best detective force in the
whole State,' said Mr. . 'The brightest fellow of
the lot believes that the wretches handed the girl over
to the White Slave traffic, as the next best way of get-
ting money. They are searching in every White Slave
resort where they can get an entree, which is no easy
matter, for these places are sealed like a tomb, and kept
"It was a beautiful morning when the care-worn and
loving husband and father leaned over his wife in bed
and said, 'Now, darling mother, take your breakfast, and
I have some news for you.' 'Oh, tell me now! Think
how long it has been, and how wretched I have been.
It is so cruel to keep this word from me.'
"Poor lady! In the early prime of her life, and yet
worn almost to emaciation, so little nourishment could
we get her to take.
" 'I must get dressed and go to her now, my darling
"So with cries of joy because she was going to see the
daughter she loved so much, and moaning and weeping
because she couldn't get dressed faster, she finally sank
back on her pillows exhausted.
"Poor lady! It was no easy task to get her dressed
for the journey. Everything was done that a loving
husband could think of for her comfort, and tenderly
146 THE STORY OF THE
holding her in his arms, he bore her half asleep along
the tedious journey, now and then stopping by the way
to get her some warm refreshment, for the journey was
long and the night was bitterly cold.
"It was morning when we reached our destination,
where we were to take a train for the nearest town that
led to the sanitarium, where the young girl had been
taken by her heart-broken father.
"A stage belonging to the institution met us at the
station, and led the way through a spacious park, and
the auto bearing its sad occupants followed. Soon the
loving husband was carrying his wife through the spa-
cious corridors, superbly appointed with every luxury.
"They entered a spacious apartment, and throwing
himself upon a couch, while he still held his wife in his
arms, he talked to her while the friend who accompanied
them was busy at the portmanteau that had been packed
at her father's suggestion.
" 'Take one of her prettiest dresses which her mother
loved to see her in, and the jewels which she will recog-
nize as the ones she had given her. Take comb and
brush, so that you can brush her hair all down one side
of her face, which had better be kept covered.'
"When all was ready, he said to his wife, 'Now,
mother, dear, you must promise me once again to be
brave and strong. Your poor child has lost her mem-
ory and will not know you.'
" 'Oh ! Yes, yes, she will,' sobbed the poor mother.
'She knows I loved her so dearly.'
"He pointed to a figure opposite them. It was that
of a young girl who sat motionless, gazing into vacancy.
"With a strange, wild stare, the mother contemplated
this strange spectacle. The dress, the jewels, the long
beautiful tresses finally seemed to speak to her, and
MARY FISHER HOME 147
clasping the girl around the neck, she swooned upon
her bosom. But the girl never moved. It was evident
that her mind was gone never to return.
"The family physician, who had accompanied them,
now came forward and said, 'I have had a room pre-
pared, and shall now take charge with your wife and
nurse. The long strain that she had been under so
long had been too much for her delicate brain, and I
know what is coming. She. will always be gentle and
easy to take care of, but she will be melancholy — the
saddest phase of insanity.'
"Early the next morning, I knocked at the door of
the head physician, and on being told to enter, I stood
before him with tears in my eyes, and in an unsteady
voice, said, 'You must let me go. You see it is so much
worse for me to be with that dear girl than it would
be for any other nurse, because I knew her in all her
brightness and beauty. My brain reels every time I
look upon that strange collection of distorted nerves. I
shall lose my mind if I cannot get out of here.'
" 'We won't ask you to stay,' was the reply. 'I will
settle with you at once. We have made that poor man
go to bed. He kept up so bravely, but now he is a com-
plete wreck. If he gets some sleep, it may save him,
but I wish that it would be otherwise. You must re-
member that it is his wish that no information should
be given to the public in reference to this sad case. The
last thing he said to me, when his mind was clear, was,
'Anything but that, Doctor. Half the world might sym-
pathize with me, but the other half would make it the
favorite theme of their vulgar, idle gossip, and talk of
my beloved child as stark mad — a raving maniac. If
you care for me, spare me that. It is all I ask. I could
stand anything but that.'
148 THE STORY OF THE
"Poor man. It is my earnest wish that the mother
and daughter may soon die, and leave him a few years'
freedom from this terrible burden of sorrow."
But where did they find her? Ah! that is the saddest
part of all. She had been sold into the White Slave
traffic of Chinatown. Crouched in a corner, clad in the
garments of a Chinese woman, that unfortunate girl sat
staring into vacancy. All one side of her face and neck
was distorted, probably from the effort that she had
made in her cries for help when the gag was put in her
mouth. Her eyes bulged from her head, showing the
tremendous agony with which she had passed into
Oh ! Fathers and Mothers ! Take care of your
precious daughters. Remember that it was in broad
daylight, on the broad highway, with people moving
around, that this noble girl was snatched to a horrible
In 191 1 we received a legacy from Mrs. Anna K.
Weaver of Brooklyn of five hundred dollars.
In 1912 a legacy from Mrs. Evelyn S. Ridgeway of
Brooklyn of one thousand dollars.
However, we had no money with which to build our
Then the same generous giver who had purchased the
land for us, Mrs. Seabury, came forward with the neces-
Mrs. McClymonds of Morris Plains, N. J., contributed
MARY FISHER HOME i 49
two thousand dollars for the completion of the edifice
and the grounds and the furnishings.
Dr. Woodruff, Mr. Speakman, and Mr. Hull assumed
the responsibility of the building of the Home.
The following loans were cancelled, which aided 1 very
much in the furnishing —
Mrs. R. T. Auchmuty $500.00
Mrs. Henry K. Sheldon 500.00
Mr. Frederick G. Bourne 500.00
Also from Mrs. George Finck a fund in trust of
Rooms have been dedicated to
Mrs. Henry King Sheldon,
Harriet Gilbert Bourne,
Annie M. McClymonds,
Mrs. Richard T. Auchmuty,
Julia W. Latimer.
The entire cost of the building and grounds was
The Seabury memorial, a gift of Mrs. Seabury in
memory of her husband, Gardner Thurston Seabury — an
ideal Home indeed. It stands in a beautiful location —
325 Highland Avenue, Mt. Vernon, N. Y.
In April, 191 2, we moved into this new building.
This was the dream of my life realized.
Many years had passed since I paid that visit to Eng-
land in my girlhood and saw just such a Home for gov-
ernesses, and wished that we had one like it.
"All things come to those who wait."
Also we have the pleasing prospect of a legacy of ten
thousand dollars which will come to this Home by the
will of Miss Cornelia Taylor, upon the death of a lady
who now receives the income from it.
Jjo THE STORY OF THE
The Association was reorganized with Mr. Speakman
as President and a Board of Trustees from among the
strongest people of Mt. Vernon. This has relieved me
of my work in the Mt. Vernon Home, and I have been
glad to resign from its Board, and devote myself to our
Rural Home in Tenafly, N. J.
REMINISCENCES THE LAPIDARY.
One of our life-guests was an aged German chemist,
who had apparently spent his lifetime and his patrimony
in the endeavor to produce precious stones. As to what
success he had met with he never told us.
As he preferred a rural locality we transferred him
from our New York home to the one in Tenafly, New
Jersey. He was possessed with the assurance that he
could produce the opal by the action of the sun's rays
upon certain chemicals placed in the soil. He was an
object of curiosity to the old ladies in the home, who
wondered what he wanted with so many queer-looking
bottles in his room, and when he explained that they con-
tained valuable chemicals that he used in his work, they
were frightened to death thinking that he would blow the
house up. So to relieve their minds we gave him a room
in a cottage on the grounds where he could have his lab-
oratory below, and his sleeping apartment above, so that
should any explosion occur he would be the only sufferer.
He was a perfect gentleman in his manner and bearing,
and always polite to the old ladies, who, while they looked
upon him with a measure of distrust and awe, could not
help feeling much respect for him, and they used to watch
MARY FISHER HOME 151
to see him emerge from his domicile in the morning, and
come across the lawn to his breakfast, satisfied to see
that he had not blown himself to pieces in the night.
A notice came to him from his brother in Germany that
the valuable library of his deceased father had been sold,
and he left us to go home to receive his share of the
There are those who ridicule a man for spending his
life on a theme that brings him no success, but later on
another will take up the thought which will prove a
In Bulwer Lytton's "The Last of the Barons," the poor
old man who invented the steam engine met with abuse
and persecution, and was believed to be plotting against
the life of the King.
But later on, the steam engine became the motive
power of the world. Perhaps some day another chemist
may succeed in producing the opal.
A VICTIM OF MORPHINE.
Probably very few people know that morphine is the
cause of many a false tale — the source of many a false
report which has injured sometimes for life a good repu-
Well I remember receiving into our Home a lady who
had been cared for in the family of an artist; she was
supposed to render some service in return for their hos-
pitality, but her poor health soon rendered this impos-
sible, and the neighbors, seeing that she was only a bur-
den to the artist's wife, appealed to us to relieve them of
her — which we did. She had been but a few weeks in
our home when she began to circulate the most astound-
ing reports of our ill-treatment of her.
When we confronted her with these falsehoods, she
152 THE STORY OF THE
denied 1 every one of them, and our physician, Dr. Haring;
who attended her, told us that she was a victim of the
morphine habit, and not responsible for what she said.
But I know there are people who to this day believe
her stories. Very few people will take the trouble to in-
vestigate for themselves, and give credence to such tales,
and it often takes years to live such things down.
THE HEIR TO HALF A MILLION.
It is seldom indeed that an heir to half a million knocks
at the door of an institution and asks for board and
However, one day, a young man in the early prime of
his life applied to us for this accommodation. He was
tall, straight, well proportioned, clean cut, scrupulously
neat, and fashionably attired in the latest London style.
"I come here to economize," he explained. "It is a
case of dire necessity, and you must do me the favor of
sparing me the annoyance of becoming acquainted with
any of the people here — I wish to live entirely alone. To
protect me from coming in contact with them, I must ask
the privilege of dining by myself, and in order to do this
I will take my meals earlier than the rest, and please see
that no one but the maid comes into the dining-room
while I am there."
It was not possible to manage this matter exactly as
he wished, but to come as near to it as we could, we gave
him a little table to himself at the end of the dining-room,
so that the guests would not have to pass by him as they
moved in and out.
But of course there was the necessity of his being seen
by them as he himself passed out.
This he always did with his head bent down, and his
MARY FISHER HOME 153
eyes fixed on the floor. Also he preserved this attitude
in passing through the hall, or along the side-walk, so
that no one should catch his eye, and annoy him with a
nod of recognition.
"I see you read French," I. said to him once, for he
ordered Des Etats Unis, which came to him regularly;
he seemed to read no other newspaper.
"I have lived in France so much," he answered, "that
I feel more at home there than in my own country. My
father disinherited me because I lived there instead of
coming home. Why shouldn't I live where I prefer, and
do as I like?"
I remembered his Mother, she was much intere'sted in
philanthropic work, and left at her death large bequests
to various institutions, one of them was the Home for the
Friendless, and he told me that his Mother used to take
him there when he was a little boy, to excite his sympa-
thies, and imbue him with the spirit of humanitarianism,
"but we can't all think alike, you know," he said, "and
parents ought not to expect too much of their children."
His Father had been one of the old millionaires of
Washington Square, and he was the only child.
"I am contesting my Father's will," said he, "but it
takes so very long, and in the meantime I have scarcely
enough to keep body and soul together. I shall stay with
you until I get my check from my lawyer, and when I get
hard up again — for it happens very often — I may be glad
to come back to you, and I hope you will have a vacancy.
Please do the best you can for me, for you never had any
one more needy, although in a different way of course."
In a couple of months he left us. When he paid his
bill it amused me to see how punctilious he was to a cent.
There were three cents coming to him out of a dime,
which he gave in payment for some postage, and he sat
154 THE STORY OF THE
and waited quite a long time for the necessary pennies to
be given him.
We were then living in St. Ann's Avenue. When we
moved to Fordham he turned up again, and remained
with us about the same length of time, upon the same
conditions, always walking about with his eyes cast down,
so that no one should annoy him by saying "good-morn-
When we moved to Mt. Vernon he came to us for the
third time, never changing his tactics in the least. And
six months after that when he turned up again, I had no
vacant room that suited him.
He seemed to be an utterly selfish man.
"But my dear Madame, could you not turn some one
out of a room, and take me in. I think you ought to un-
derstand how urgent my need is, it would be horrible for
me to go into a common boarding house to be stared at."
I told him it was impossible for me to make any such
changes, but that we had a Home in Tenafly, which he
was very glad to hear of, and he at once went over there,
and stated his wants and wishes to the Superintendent,
who happened to be able to accommodate him — much in
the same way as we had been accustomed to do. He had
a table to himself in a corner of the dining-room, where
he could sit with his back to the people, and they soon
learned to understand that he was something very unique,
who was never to be approached or spoken to under any
When anything annoyed him he was apt to be very
"Madame," he said to me one day, "you must instruct
your maid as to the proper manner of addressing me
when you have corn among your vegetables for dinner,
for she is in the habit of yelling to me, "Sir, do you like
to have corns ?' "
MARY FISHER HOME 155
You can imagine how unpleasant it is for me to be
reminded of anything so disagreeable just as I am going
to eat my dinner.
Those who had rooms near him used to complain that
he disturbed them in the middle of the night, in opening
and shutting his trunk, and when I mentioned it to him
he said —
"It is my habit to get up in the night and eat a couple
of sandwiches which I keep in my trunk, and as I am
sleepy the lid falls down very often before I know it."
When he left us this time he did not return.
We never heard of him after that.
A CHAPTER ON DOGS.
Now that we had such a nice country Home, I wished
very much to have a good dog, but couldn't afford an ex-
pensive one; I was offered a dachshund for twelve dol-
lars, but that was beyond my limit of five dollars, for we
had to practice the strictest economy to keep out of debt.
I heard of a collie owned by a butcher who lived at the
top of a tenement house in New York City, and that the
poor dog suffered shut up for want of a run in the fresh
air, and that the butcher wanted to sell it.
I went to find this dog ; the butcher was out, but I saw
his wife, and she showed me the collie shut up in the little
It was a beauty, and looked wistfully at me. I offered
her five dollars, but she shook her head, and we haggled
some time over the price. Finally she said —
"Veil zat dog do make me troobles, you can have him
for ze five dollar."
156 THE STORY OF THE
The next day was Sunday.
Just as the church bells were ringing, the butcher ap-
peared on the scene and demanded his dog, saying —
"My vife didn't haf no pissness to sell zat dog. I gif
you back ze five dol, never I make no sich pargain."
And so I had to part with the dog.
In about a week the butcher sent me a postal saying I
might have the dog for seven dollars, and I was only too
glad to get possession of the beautiful collie once more.
But I didn't want to lose sight of him for fear some-
thing might happen to him, and I decided to walk with
him to the 23rd Street ferry. The woman fastened a
piece of string to his collar, and we started off.
It was some three miles to the ferry, and although my
companion trotted along valiantly, I found myself tired
out, and still far away from the ferry.
"What shall I do?" I said to myself. "How shall I ever
get there?" I sank down on a box outside a grocery
store, my good dog nestling beside me, as though con-
tented to stay there forever, so long as I was with him.
Sometimes a boy would come along and speak to the
dog, but he had been so long shut up by himself, that he
was very timid, and seemed afraid if a man or boy came
Then I saw several drays driving along. It was Sat-
urday, and some were empty, and the thought occurred to
me that my chance had come. I presume, in my anxiety,
I had lost all thought of the proprietors, for I sat on that
soap box, and waved my handkerchief to attract the
driver's attention, but the only person that paid any heed
to me was an officer of the peace who was passing along
on his beat and swinging his club.
"What's the matter wid ye, madame ?" he asked.
I explained the cause of my dilemma.
MARY FISHER HOME i 5 ?
He stood awhile staring at me, as though he couldn't
make up his mind as to what sort of a woman I was.
Certainly my appearance was not in my favor, the wind
was blowing a tremendous gale, my hat was all on one
side and I couldn't straighten it with one hand, and didn't
dare let go my leash of the dog to use both.
Finally the policeman gave a comical look at the dog,
and said, "Oh, well, madame, them animals is allers a
sort o' nuisance, ony fit to be on a farm," and walked
away, my dog watching his club as he disappeared.
But it was getting late, and the grocer's man came and
looked at me occasionally as though he thought I had sat
on his box long enough, and at my earnest request he
hailed a boy, who for a nickel was willing to stand on the
curb, and call out to the first empty dray that came along.
When he had stood there for some time, he called back
to me saying, "See here, Missis, won't it do if it ain't
empty — just room enough for you and the dog?"
"Oh, yes, anything will do," I said.
Before very long a dray drove up to the curbstone, and
I was so thankful that I could have cried for joy.
"Will you take me and my dog to the ferry for fifty
cents?" I asked.
"Sure," was the response, "jump in Missis."
But I couldn't jump in — the dray was so high.
"Please hurry," he continued.
People hurrying along the side walk now stopped and
made a little circle around me and the dog, which seemed
to be getting more frightened every minute.
"Oh, won't some one lift me in," I cried, and a coal
man left his job and lifted me onto the dray, but the
leash of the dog was too short, and he was so frightened ;
then the cord broke, and I lost sight of him.
In my distress, I cried to be let down again. I could
158 THE STORY OF THE
see the dog on the opposite side of the street, running
away from those who were after him, and I followed
saying, "Oh, please get him, he will not bite." Finally
they got hold of the dog. The man drove over to us. I
never knew how I got into that wagon but I found my-
self sitting on the floor with the dog's head in my lap.
They had given him the name of Nero, but that savored
of cruelty, and I named him Rex for he was as good as
any king; as I patted his head and talked to him he
seemed well pleased with his new name.
The man drove along at a furious rate. I thought I had
better get the fifty cents ready, so I fumbled in my purse
for it, but the dray jolted so tremendously, that it slipped
from my fingers, and I saw it roll down into the road.
Finally we reached the ferry. With the help of a man
I slipped down from the dray, and kept tight hold of the
As soon as we landed on the side walk the dray disap-
peared onto the boat which had just come in, and the
driver never waited for his fifty cents.
"That dog is a collie crossed with a Newfoundland,"
said a gentleman who sat beside us in the ferry boat.
Rex was a great pleasure in the Home. When any
one went out for a walk he would follow them, as though
to take care of them. He always knew the time when
one old gentleman went down for the mail two and three
times a day, and always went with him frisking about
across the railroad track; and one day a train ran over
him and killed him.
The poor old gentleman was broken-hearted, and cried
like a child. Dogs seem to have no sense of danger.
They will get under the horses' feet, and under the wheels
of autos, and are often killed through their carelessness.
After that I bought a little collie for five dollars.
MARY FISHER HOME 159
One of the old ladies had brought her dog with her, he
had died of old age. His name was Tobias. She wanted
my dog named after him, but as I didn't like such a long
name, I said we would call him Toby for short. He was
only two weeks old, a very scrubby-looking little fellow,
not at all handsome, but he grew into a beautiful dog, and
is now twelve years old.
When it snows, he may be seen walking up a hill, and
when he reaches the top, he stands still awhile looking
around as though watching for something, then goes
plowing along with his nose in the snow. Afterwards,
we see him walking slowly back again.
One day I said to one of the old gentlemen, "It is so
strange, Toby never goes out alone when it rains, but as
soon as it snows he marches off up the hill, and never
goes there at any other time."
"Of course," he answered. "He is a cross between a
St. Bernard, that makes him so gentle, and the instinct
of the St. Bernard is there, and as long as he lives he will
go looking in the snow expecting to find some one buried
We had a little rat terrier from the Bide-a-Wee. It
proved to be a poor, sick little creature, and couldn't eat.
Toby would look at him, and seemed very much con-
cerned. We decided to send him back to the Bide-a-
Wee, where he would have further medical treatment.
So he was crated, and our man took him to the station
in a wheelbarrow — Toby following behind like a mourner
at a funeral. Afterward he would be seen watching at
the gate, as though he expected his little companion to
With all respect to the management of the Bide-a-Wee
would it not be better to chloroform the sick cats and
dogs, than spend money on their treatment, and risk the
160 THE STORY OF THE
danger of hydrophobia, which is such a secret and terrible
A GHOST IN THE BEDROOM.
The fact of mental telegraphy was brought very for-
cibly to my notice one summer when a journalist wished
to spend a time of convalescence at our Tenafly Home.
She was a bright woman who had been on the staff of
the New York Herald.
I wished very much to accommodate her, but there
was only one room that I could offer her, and in that
room there had very recently been a death.
When I took her into the apartment, and relieved her
of her crutches, I said to myself, "We mustn't let her
know that there was a death in this room so lately, for
her long illness after her terrible accident may have left
"The sun comes to every room in our Home during
some part of the day," I said, feeling it necessary to
make some remark about the room, for I was anxious
that she should enjoy and profit by the change of air
and our hospitality.
She made no comment, but sat silent gazing round
the room. I did not speak, but waited for her. After
a while she said, "I feel that there has been a death in
I was now silent. I did not ask, how do you know.
I knew perfectly well that it was that mysterious trans-
mittance of thought of my brain to hers — that mental
telegraphy which, like electricity, will be developed more
and more as time goes on. I knew it was best to be
honest and I said, "It was an old teacher who occupied
MARY FISHER HOME 161
this room for years. Her life passed quietly away. She
had no disease whatever — not even a cough; her
strength simply gave out."
"Oh, it would make no difference to me," she said.
"I am not so silly, but I could feel there had been a
death here as soon as I came into the room."
A STREAK OF FORTUNE.
As I have said before, I cannot help smiling when I
remember our comical experiences with some of our
Every year in New York City there are thousands
of men out of work who seem to have no special trade
or vocation, and cannot earn enough to pay their way,
and the daily papers have a column of these men offer-
ing to do anything to earn a living.
Now, as we wanted a useful man at our Home in
Tenafly, and could afford only very small wages, I ad-
vertised for a man who would be satisfied with a com-
fortable home and five dollars per month. I always be-
lieve in advertising instead of going to the bureaus.
From a number of answers I selected one, and asked
the writer to call on me.
I was surprised to find him so intelligent and well-
educated. He spoke English perfectly well, but told me
that he was a Swede by birth. He could not give me
any reference — I think he said he had been travelling
about so much, never stopping long enough in one place
to make any acquaintance.
What was more strange still, he wouldn't give me
any name except that it was Albert.
However, his manner was so gentlemanly and he im-
pressed me so favorably, that I felt constrained to waive
every other consideration, and I engaged him at once.
i62 THE STORY OF THE
•He proved a most efficient servant, he was indeed
willing to do anything, many things that we could not
have asked him to do, he would volunteer to accom-
plish. If he saw in one of the rooms a shabby piece of
furniture, he would ask for a few cents' worth of ma-
terial and work away at it, until it looked like new. If
any of the old people wanted letters written for them, he
was always at their service.
When he had been about a month with us we missed
him one day, and as he was not in the habit of absent-
ing himself at any time, we were afraid that something
had happened to him. So we searched everywhere. To
our astonishment he was found at the back of the
grounds lying on the grass in a state of intoxication.
The next day he appeared before us just the same as
usual, apologized in a most respectful manner for his
absence from work, and explained to us that it was a
habit that he had fought for years to overcome, but that
he had not will-power to succeed. That it had been
just the same with his father, who had been intemperate
during a long life, which had been filled with resources
and opportunities which he had thrown away.
Month after month passed on, and when he might
have had a room in the house and been warm and com-
fortable, he preferred to sleep in the barn, and as it was
a very severe winter, and the wind and snow blowing in
many a crevice, I was afraid we would sometime find
him frozen to death, for he was so thin, that his bones
didn't seem to have enough flesh to cover them. But
he assured me that his life had been so full of hardships
and privations, that the shelter of the barn was sufficient
for him, and I could not prevail upon him to make any
Although he was intemperate occasionally, very little
MARY FISHER HOME 163
liquor must have satisfied him, for he never asked for
more than the five dollars per month. Of course, we
looked somewhat after his wardrobe, for he well de-
Now it happened that some ladies in Englewood knew
an old lady who had a very comfortable income, but on
account of her eccentric character, she never boarded
long in one place, and was a constant anxiety to her
When they heard of our Home in Tenafly with its
pleasant grounds, they thought it would be an ideal
place for her, and as she could afford to pay well for the
accommodation, they thought it would compensate us
for any of her vagaries which she might impose upon
us. So with the pleasant prospect of this addition to our
exchequer we welcomed this new guest, and offered her
the largest room in the house.
"But I must have another room for my seven trunks,
where I can always get at them at any time," she said.
So we found her an extra room for her many belong-
ings, and she seemed to settle down quite contented, to
the great satisfaction of her friends.
She was not long in discovering Albert's many good
points. He was always at her beck and call, and never
lost patience with her, and she finally concluded that
the time had now come for her to go to housekeeping
again, for if her cook suddenly forsook her in the midst
of getting her dinner, Albert could take her place in the
kitchen and fill the bill.
So, ignoring the advice of her friends, she hired a cot-
tage, and moved into it — herself, our Albert and her
many belongings. I had always told our help when I
engaged them that I should expect that they would
better themselves as soon as the opportunity offered,
i64 THE STORY OF THE
and also I would be glad to help them to do this.
However, the piece of good fortune that fell to Albert
was beyond anything that I could have expected, for
the old lady didn't live very long, and at her death be-
queathed Albert all her money, and he left this country
for good, returning to Sweden where he could spend
the rest of his days in ease and comfort.
MOODY AND SANKEY.
An Episcopal clergyman on Long Island wrote me
that they were looking for a home for an old lady who
had kept a school in the long ago. She owned the little
cottage in which she lived, and the five dollars per month
furnished by the township was all she had to depend
upon, and he had persuaded her to dispose of her place,
and with the money get admitted into a Home for life.
The cottage was not worth anything, so no one
wanted it, but the lot brought three hundred dollars.
The clergyman's wife made an appointment to meet
me at the train, and take me to see the old lady, and
finally we reached the poor little dilapidated cottage. I
found there was something very gentle and pleasing in
this old school mistress.
"You have been so very kind," she said to the minis-
ter's wife, "but it grieves me to part with Moody and
The lady smiled as she saw me looking surprised, for
I had understood that she had no one belonging to her.
"I shall find good homes for them," she said, and I
followed her eyes across the room to the old stove. On
the left of it was a big tabby cat, on the right, was a big
tortoiseshell cat, behind the stove were three kittens on
MARY FISHER HOME 165
"But don't so many cats eat a great deal?" I asked.
"Oh, no, I've brought them up on rolled oats. Moody
enjoys them, and Sankey would ask for nothing better."
"Now, my dear woman," said the lady, "you had bet-
ter hand over the three hundred dollars now, for I am
so afraid you might be robbed, people know you have
sold the place, and there are so many tramps around,
and as it is getting so cold, we had better pack up the
cats and we will take them with us, and I'll find a home
for them among our church people as I drive Miss
Fisher to the train."
She agreed to this, but her voice trembled, and a sob
escaped her. At last, two old baskets were found,
Moody was disposed of in one, and Sankey in the other,
and with the three kittens in a bag in my lap, we
We had gone several miles before we reached any
habitation, for the old lady lived so far from civilization,
but finally we came upon some straggling houses. The
first that we called at agreed to relieve us of the three
kittens, and promised to drown them, saying, "Don't
care much for the job, but will do it to oblige you,
madam." We soon found a home for Moody. "Such a
big, strong cat must be a good rat catcher," said the new
We were not quite so successful with Sankey.
"My husband can't abide a tortoiseshell cat," said one,
"besides we have a cat, and that's enough."
However, a little girl begged her mother to take San-
key, and I finally reached the station in time for the
"I am so thankful to get this settled," said the lady,
as we took luncheon. "I have been so afraid that some
winter morning we should find her frozen to death."
166 THE STORY OF THE
It was arranged that the clergyman should bring the
old lady on the following Saturday, and that I should
meet them at the depot, and take the old lady home
So on the Saturday morning I was on hand waiting
for the Long Island train to come in. Many passengers
alighted, but there was no sign of such an old lady. I
then waited for the next train to come in, but without
any better success. She was not there.
When I arrived home, I found a telegram waiting for
me. I had left home early to do some shopping on my
way, so I was not there when it came.
It said, "Don't come — letter will follow."
The letter informed me that the next morning, when
the old lady awoke she heard a meow outside of the
house, and on opening the door, Moody and Sankey
They must have travelled several miles in the night.
The old lady refused to part with them again.
We returned the entrance fee, and heard no more of
Moody and Sankey.
A HOUSE FULL OF CATS.
One morning our postman said to me, "I hear you
want a good cat, now I know where you can get one.
I can tell you of a woman who deals in cats," and he
wrote down the address on the back of one of my letters.
I decided to get one of her cats for our Tenafly Home.
Now, a woman who dealt in cats was certainly a curi-
osity, and as I did want a good mouser, I was willing
to take the trouble to call at that particular house the
next time I went down town.
I was surprised to find myself in such a respectable
MARY FISHER HOME 167
neighborhood. A very neat colored woman, who re-
sembled an East Indian negress, answered my ring, and
showed me into an ante-room with very little furniture.
I stated my business, and she said, "Madame, please
send up your card."
This was another surprise for me — to find the
vender of cats living in such style, and I thought to my-
self, can it be that she trains cats for a circus, but then
can cats be trained? And where are these cats? For
I didn't hear a mew, and as I peeped into the rooms
across the hall where the doors were ajar, no sign of a
cat presented itself. It was a very quiet street, and all
was as quiet as though it were the middle of the night.
Presently I heard the rustle of a silk skirt, then the
door opened wider and a lady in a black and white tea
gown glided into the room. She had a sweet, soft voice,
and a very charming manner, and was evidently every
inch a gentlewoman.
I remembered that I had seen her before — her Mother
was one of the first subscribers to our Home, and one
of our best friends. When we gave our first fair at the
Waldorf, one of our chief attractions was a set of china
beautifully painted by her, which she donated, and then
bought it in herself, for a wedding present to some one.
That was years ago. Finally, there were only three
daughters left, and this lady was one of them. They had
a beautiful place at Kingsbridge which they had no use
for, as they preferred to live in their city house, but they
would not part with it, because the trees that adorned
the park had all been planted by their Grandfather when
he was a young man.
It was no wonder that for a moment I forgot my er-
rand, and sat silently thinking.
"I understand you want a cat," she said, "I am sorry
I haven't one for you."
168 THE STORY OF THE
Oh, so you are entirely out of them at present."
"No, I have plenty of them, but none to suit you."
I thought this was very strange, then I added, "I am
willing to pay something for the cat." "Oh, I don't
make money by my cats, on the contrary, I spend money
on them. It costs me considerably more than a thousand
a year to keep this house. Would you like to see my
I said I should be very glad, and she led the way up
stairs. In the front room on the second floor was a
number of cats lying on a large bed, apparently asleep.
On the mantelpiece two or three cats were sitting, with
their eyes shut, and around the room on the floor were
some more cats. I well remember counting thirteen.
In the middle of the floor was a large dish of raw
chopped meat, and a large pan of milk.
"They seem to be all asleep," I said.
"Because they are sick," she answered. I then fol-
lowed her into the back room, here also were cats on
the bed, on the mantelpiece, on two tables, and on the
floor. They all seemed to be in the same drowsy condi-
tion, with a great dish of meat, which looked as if it
hadn't been touched, and the pan of milk. She then took
me up-stairs, here also were the like conditions — cats —
cats — cats.
"Of course, my friends think I am a crank," she said,
"but I sympathize so much with poor, lame, sick cats,
because they seldom find a friend, while all the other
animals have a chance to get pampered up. But I shall
look out for a cat for you, because I think you would
be kind to it."
So I left my address, and in the course of a week, the
negress came with a handsome little basket, which had
evidently been made for the purpose of carrying a small
MARY FISHER HOME 169
animal, and inside was a tabby kitten bedecked with
broad blue ribbons.
The kitten proved of no use. It was a poor, shy, timid
little thing, but I didn't like to send it back. So I kept
it until we were giving up the house to move to Mt.
Vernon, and then I sent a post card to the lady explain-
ing the facts, and the next day the negress came and
relieved us of this small responsibility.
Some time after, I saw a notice in the papers, stating
that a complaint had been made that the Home for cats
was unsanitary, and that boys would wound a cat, and
make it lame, in order to receive the five or ten cents
which was always ready for them upon delivery of the
animal at that basement door. I believe the cats were
transferred to the country.
TOO ARDENT A LOVER.
I found it a very great advantage to have the two
Homes. Sometimes an old person would be very trou-
blesome, and then I would transfer them to the other
At one time an old lawyer had the habit of intruding
himself upon the attention of the old ladies. He seemed
to have been quite a lady's man, and would follow them
round to talk to them, much to the annoyance of some of
them. He was a tall, fine-looking man, with a very kindly
and handsome face, but was rather simple-minded, being
over eighty years of age. He took a particular fancy to
a good-looking old lady who became so angry with him
that one day she slapped his face, and there was quite a
J 70 THE STORY OF THE
quarrel between them, and for fear of another outbreak
I brought him to Mt. Vernon.
He settled down very quietly, either he didn't find the
Mt. Vernor ladies so attractive, or he was afraid of being
In a couple of years' time his mind was so far gone,
that we had to send him to the State hospital at Pough-
keepsie. When the two officers came for him he seemed
to be afraid of them, but he would go anywhere with me,
so I went with him to the hospital. When we entered
that spacious building he said to me, "Miss Fisher, is this
another of your hotels?"
They showed me around the building, and he kept close
beside me. As soon as I saw the opportunity, I slipped
THE TWO ORPHANS.
An old lady and gentleman had not met for many
years. They were both Southerners, and in the days of
their prosperity had lived for years in a family hotel pa-
tronized by Southerners. Both were becoming childish,
and they would sit all day together, and the old gentleman
would often repeat "we are two orphans."
One afternoon we missed the old lady, and I said to
him, "What has become of your friend?"
"I really don't know," he answered. "She asked me
if I had any money, as she would like to borrow some of
it. I gave her twenty-five cents, it was all I had, and I
have not seen her since."
"You did very wrong," I said. "You know we never
let her go out alone," and I gave him a good scolding,
adding, "now you'll never get back your twenty-five cents,
and you deserve to lose it."
Night came on, but there was no sign of her.
MARY FISHER HOME 171
I knew that she would command the respect of most
people she might address, for she was well dressed, and
had every appearance of a lady, but I was afraid that she
would get on a train with the hope of getting to her old
home in Charleston, South Carolina.
After considerable worry and telephoning, it was not
until the morning that I heard of her, when the police
notified me that they had found her.
All she could tell me was that some ladies living in a
very nice house, had invited her to spend the night with
The old gentleman became very helpless, he had a
mania for changing his clothes, from summer-wear to
winter-wear, saying he was so often too hot or too cold.
As his room was opposite mine, I often looked in upon
him. He had been with us ten years, and everybody liked
him, and the nurse was very kind to him, but he often
tried her patience by constantly changing his clothes.
One night I heard her scolding him, and I went in to
see what was the matter. He was sitting up in bed try-
ing to struggle on a gauze under shirt, over a thick win-
"I was so dreadfully hot," he said, "I shall be so com-
fortable when I get this on."
The nurse was lying on the couch. "He has tired me
out," she said, "changing his things, so I threw the thin
shirt to him, and you see what he's about."
In about an hour I looked in again. The summer shirt
was all crooked and only half on. "I am so much cooler
now," he said.
A POSSIBLE ROMANCE.
One of our old teachers told us that she and the Pope of
Rome were lovers in the long ago when they were both
young and went to the same church together.
172 THE STORY OF THE
"I don't believe it," said one of the old ladies. "I don't
think it is possible."
But there were those who thought that such a thing
might have been. There was some discussion.
Finally an old gentleman said, "The only way to de-
termine this would be to write to his Holiness, and ask
for the truth of the matter."
"But that might not work very well," said another, "for
you know it generally happens that the memories of a
man's early loves are very elusive."
"Katrina has always been very truthful," said one of
her friends, "and I believe all she says, and why shouldn't
the Pope have a little romance as well as any other man ?"
This summer of 1914 has brought us the tidings of the
dreadful war in Europe.
Like all sensible Americans, we have kept strictly to
the advice of our good President, Woodrow Wilson, to
observe a perfect neutrality. In our Home we have a
mixed nationality, and many of our guests, either by
birth or ancestry, are of the various European nations,
and when we meet in the dining-room not a word is
uttered in reference to this warfare.
At my table is a Danish lady. We know she will
never forgive the Germans for taking a part of Denmark
some years ago, but she never utters a word. A Ger-
man lady who declared that the Kaiser could not do
anything wrong, and that Europe depended on Germany
for everything, sits opposite a French lady who smiles
and is silent. She knows that the German lady is very
sensitive, nervous and excitable, and she has too much
true politeness to offer any protest. Nevertheless there
are charming little coteries held in the snug little bed-
rooms, where kindred spirits meet and can vent their
preferences and give offence to no one.
MARY FISHER HOME 173
OUR TENAFLY HOME
In 1899, we had over a score of subscribers in New
Jersey, through the efforts of Miss Belle Durkee, of Pas-
saic. Also we had a number of applicants in New Jer-
sey, and we found it advisable to have a separate Home
in this State. Mrs. H. F. Ahrens, of Leonia, found us
the fine property at Tenafly, on a line with the beautiful
Palisades. Mrs. Terhune (Marion Harland) who had
lived many years in Newark, was the strongest promoter
of the new enterprise.
She called the first meeting in Newark, where she had
many friends, and many prominent women responded to
the call, among them Mrs. Andrew J. Newbury, and the
Association was organized, and we were fortunate in se-
curing Mrs. Newbury as Treasurer. This office she has
now filled for fifteen years, and we cannot thank her
enough for her faithful service in this onerous duty.
Mrs. Terhune was the pioneer of all our movements, as
she has been ever since.
Mrs. Chas. B. Yardley, of Orange, who was a member
of the Sorosis, advised us to interest the clubwomen of
New Jersey, and before long the New Jersey State Fed-
eration of Women's Clubs and the federated clubs of the
State, were enlisted in the good work to the number of
thirty-seven. All of these have responded to our appeal
for the mortgage fund.
Miss Elizabeth Demarest, of Passaic, gave us valuable
assistance in starting our Association, and later on Miss
Elizabeth B. Vermilye interested herself in the Home,
and became our President, which office we trust she will
hold as long as she lives.
Several of the Managers gave charming entertainments
— Mrs. W. J. Boggs, Mrs. Thomas M. Moore, Mrs.
174 THE STORY OF THE
Philip J. Koonz, and Miss A. P. Townsend. Mrs. Flor-
ence Howe Hall gave a lecture in Newark ; Mrs. Marie T.
Lange a lecture on Japan at Asbury Park ; Mrs. Marion
H. Zabriskie a grand concert at the Lyceum in Engle-
wood, and several others at the Home.
Mrs. Terhune has pioneered the authors' readings
every year, introducing well-known authors to a large
and appreciative audience. And these authors have
brought new friends to the Home.
I am always glad of an opportunity to do what I can for what
is, in my opinion, one of the worthiest of our charities.
I am happy to lend the Home a hand when I can. May all
good things come to it! RUTH McENERY STUART.
A cause that, of course, demands my deepest sympathy.
I shall be very glad indeed to send my usual subscription to
the Mary Fisher Home. HENRY VAN DYKE.
You know how warm is my interest in your beautiful charity.
I am always willing to do all I can for it.
ELIZABETH B. CUSTER.
The cause you represent has my heartiest sympathy.
I am naturally in favor of Authors' Homes, and particularly
of the one at Tenafly. It is beautifully situated, well-managed,
and financed by some of the ablest women in America.
Mr. Will Carleton took much interest in the Home ; he
often visited it, and was always ready to give his kind
services to preside at our entertainments, and read from
his poems, which were always so popular. He has now
been called to the Higher Life, and we shall always re-
member him as one we can never replace. It was
through him that Mr. Andrew Carnegie subscribed five
MARY FISHER HOME 175
hundred dollars toward taking the title of the Home.
Since that Mr. Carnegie has become a patron.
Mrs. Alexander Campbell gave an entertainment in
Newark; Miss Snyder gave one at Asbury Park and
Montclair; Miss Elizabeth Timlow in Montclair; Mrs.
Julia Roe Davis had interesting meetings at her school
Also as we look back we find the names of others who
have joined the immortals. The Rev. Louis S. Osborne,
D. D., of Newark, gave us much encouragement, and
spoke of his faith in woman's work.
Through Miss E. A. Allen, of Hoboken, we received a
legacy of two thousand dollars from a public school
teacher ; a contribution of five hundred dollars from Mrs.
Winthrop, of New York, who started a fund for building
a wing to the Home, which cost over five thousand dol-
Mrs. Robert Shaw was our first Superintendent, and
gave efficient service for many years.
Among the subscribers and those who have rendered
kind service in the past as well as in the present are:
Mrs. R. T. Auchmuty, Mrs. C. B. Alexander, Mrs. Ed-
ward A. Albright, Mrs. J. A. Bradley, Mrs. Henry A.
Barry, Mrs. Joseph D. Bedle, Mrs. W. F. Bathgate, Mrs.
Henry G. Bell, Mrs. J. P. Boggs, Mrs. John H. Ballan-
tine, Miss Laura L. Barnes, Mr. Walter Bogart, Rev.
Antoinette B. Blackwell, Rev. Fisher Howe Booth, Miss
N. Louise Buckland, Mrs. Grover Cleveland, Mrs. Alex-
ander Campbell, Mrs. B. D. Cauldwell, Mr. Andrew Car-
negie, Mrs. Andrew Carnegie, Mrs. P. W. Doremus, Mrs.
A. S. Diven, Miss Amanda M. Douglas, Mrs. A. McC.
Daulton, Rev. Chas. Douglas, Mrs. Robert Dun Douglas,
176 THE STORY OF THE
Miss E. E. Dana, Miss M. F. Demarest, Mrs. de Milk,
Mr. Wm. C. de Mille, Miss Sara Esterbrook, Mrs. J. F.
Freeman, Miss Ada D. Fuller, Dr. Joseph Fewsmith,
Mrs. Hugh F. Fox, Mr. Daniel Chester French, James
M. Green, Ph. D., LL. D., Rev. John Gaston, Mrs. Vir-
ginia C. Huyler, Mrs. J. G. Holland, Mrs. Garret A. Ho-
bart, Hon. Chas. M. Howe, Hon. Thomas S. Henry, Mrs.
J. F. Hadley, Miss C. E. Hartt, Mrs. T. V. Johnson,
Rev. Philo F. Leavens, Mr. Edward Thomas Moore, Mrs.
Benjamin E. McGrew, Mrs. L. K. McClymonds, Miss
Mary McKeen, Dr. Sarah F. Mackintosh, Allen Mar-
quand, Ph. D., Henry Morton, Ph. D., Mrs. Washington
Paulison, Miss Lavinia F. Pond, Miss Florence Palmer,
Mrs. C. M. K. Paulison, Prof. James C. Riggs, Mrs. A.
G. Randolph, Rev. James F. Riggs, Mrs. F. W. Rheinfel-
der, Mrs. Wm. H. Rhodes, Mr. Fred S. Shepherd, Prof.
R. Spaulding, Mrs. Touzo Sauvage, Rev. Henry M.
Saunders, Mrs. Eliott F. Shepherd, Mr. Chas. Scribner,
Mrs. E. O. Weeks, Miss H. Winton, Mrs. F. M. Wheeler,
Mr. Geo. A. Zabriskie, Mrs. E. F. C. Young — and many
FROM THE ANNUAL REPORT OF THE SECRETARY, I9I4.
The celebration today of the fifteenth anniversary of
the Mary Fisher Home Association of New Jersey, or
Crystal Wedding, leads to the consideration of the simili-
tude of this organization to the Crystal, and though we
disclaim the conceit of the possession of all the good qual-
ities of the Crystal, we can look upon it as a symbol of
what we desire to represent — purity, truth, beauty and
The Mary Fisher Home has endured these fifteen years
and has cared for over four hundred and fifty guests,
supplying a home for a class hitherto unconsidered in
MARY FISHER HOME 177
the establishment of Homes that appeal to the humane
The motive for this work has been pure and true —
"only the thought of humble service."
The spiritual beauty of the work Rev. Dr. Lyman
Whitney Allen effectively expressed in his poem, "The
House of Mary" — the Home. May it always be "Faith's
glory when the lights of life burn low !"
That the Home now has as an honored guest the
Founder and former President, is a blessing of great
value, and though almost physically helpless, she is a
wonderful example of patience, unselfishness and cheer-
Of the twenty-six other guests at the Home at present,
many have "wrought life's happy miracles" in educa-
tional, literary, musical, artistic and other lines of brain
At the authors' matinee at the Waldorf, January 29,
1914, the Rev. Lyman Whitney Allen, D. D., of Newark,
read his poem, "The House of Mary," written after vis-
iting the Home.
THE HOUSE OF MARY
Behold it! There it stands against the pines,
Amid green meadows, wrapped by stillness round,
A simple house and yet magnificat,
For through its windows and oft-opened door
There streams a light, there flow sweet fragrances
From subtle spiritualness within.
It is the House of Mary. She, like one
Of ancient days low at anointed feet,
Who heard Love's oracles from Kingly lips,
Chose the good part which from her shall not pass,
Seeing it has eternal essences.
Therein she sits, the Founder of the House,
As 't were enthroned, though in her queenly heart
Only the thought of humble service dwells.
178 THE STORY OF THE
About her circle leal confederates,
Sooth patrons of the Muses' almoners,
Regnant with her — a sorcerous company,
Adept in every bright beneficence,
Drawing from acreage wide those finer souls
Who sight Love's vision and build Duty's dream.
So stands the House of Mary, monument
To that high law which sways the sons of God,
"Who loses life shall find it." So it stands,
By grace of her who re-engrossed the law
In sacrificial fealty to its spell.
The House of Mary has its many guests —
Those who have wrought life's happy miracles
With art's uplifted rod, eliciting
Fountains from phantom rocks and roses sweet
From mystic sands, and by weird conjuring
Have builded cities, ranged great armaments,
Driv'n faery ships about the seven seas,
Surcharged the boreal blasts with summerness
And all the woosome winds with minstrelsy
Along the populous highways of the years.
The House of Mary has one portal large —
Embrasure toward the Blue ; and presences,
Which oft descend angel-trailed ways
In times of eld, still mediate, and part
In vatic hours the veil of destiny,
Showing the dream fulfilled beyond the dream.
The House of Mary! It shall ever be
Love's shelter ministrant to musing minds,
Hope's hermitage within the groves of art,
Faith's glory when the lights of life burn low,
A welcome to heaven-born imaginings
That crowd on feebleness defying age.
The House of Mary! It shall never fail.
It has foundations wrought of many hearts,
Whose bounteous care shall follow bounteous gold
Through golden years, and be its strength and stay.
All hail to Mary and her noble House !
All hail to Love's defending Sisterhood!
THE TRUE STORY OF THE POE COTTAGE
AND THE POE PARK.
Mrs. Melusina Fay Peirce was one of the first literary
women to be interested in our Home. She was our
Vice-President when it was called the Home Hotel, and
we were maintaining a branch of our Home at Fordham
Mrs. Peirce recognized Edgar Allan Poe as the great-
est genius among American poets, and cherished toward
him a deep gratitude because of his chivalry toward her
sex, and it was given to her to conceive the beautiful
idea of rescuing the Fordham cottage of this poet from
obliteration, by creating around it a small park to con-
sist of its original grounds of three acres, together with
five more along both sides of the Kingsbridge Road
whereon it stood.
This Park was to be the open-air Pantheon for Ameri-
can poets and therefore to America what the "Poets'
Cqrner" in Westminster Abbey is to England.
180 THE STORY OF THE
Mrs. Peirce had for many months been trying in vain
to interest leading New Yorkers in thus rescuing Poe's
last home on its own site as he knew it.
We were only too proud to espouse this laudable un-
dertaking. We gladly formed ourselves into a Com-
mittee for this purpose, and issued a circular inviting
the people of Fordham to co-operate with us.
Several did so, and the Taxpayers' Alliance of Ford-
ham passed a resolution to the effect that "the well-
known cottage and site, the home of Edgar Allan Poe,
should be preserved, and land should be secured and a
small public park established at the place." — (Dixon's
Up-Town Weekly, Jan. 25, 1895.)
Now this home of the illustrious poet as many knew
it and as I remember it as a child — was very picturesque
in its rural simplicity and beauty. It stood secluded in
tall forest groves on a grassy hill-top, diversified with
vine-covered rocks overlooking the Bronx valley. What
an ideal spot for a Poets' Park!
Mrs. Peirce's proposition was to restore the grounds
as they were in the poet's day, when he and his ex-
quisite young wife used to sit under the big cherry tree
in front of the cottage or in the wild cherry grove among
the rocks at its back. Within its pitiful little walls were
written all his latest masterpieces. What an immortal
and tremendous distinction for those walls !
We held interesting meetings at our Fordham Branch.
Mrs. Peirce would give glimpses of the poet's life and
read some of his poems. William Fearing Gill, one of
Poe's biographers, attended our first meeting, warmly
indorsed the plan, and said he much regretted that he
had not thought of it when he was the owner of the
cottage a few years before. Our committee waited upon
Mayor Strong, who listened attentively and was favor-
MARY FISHER HOME 181
ably disposed to the plan of saving the tiny dwelling
by surrounding it with the proposed Poets' Park. The
Mayor said : "If we save the cottage at all we ought to
do it handsomely." Gen. W. H. Morris, son of the
George P. Morris who once owned the famous
Home Journal to which Edgar Poe was a contributor —
lived near the Poe cottage on the Kingsbridge Road.
He was actively enlisted on behalf of our project and
made for us a map with estimate of the value of every
house and lot on the hill-top — the amount being less
than $300,000. We were cheerfully hoping for success.
The inspiration of Mrs. Peirce's plan was her knowl-
edge that the Hon. Abram S. Hewitt, when he was the
Mayor of New York, had got passed a law which com-
pelled the city to spend one million dollars a year on
small parks. This was in the year 1887-8, but none of
this money had hitherto been appropriated, so that in
seven years it had accumulated to seven available mil-
lions. Well, indeed, could the city afford to spend a
small portion of this sum to purchase this rocky hill-top
and return it to its old-time verdant beauty. This could
easily have been done, for the Kingsbridge Road was
still the old original country road.
But the Commissioner of Public Works of the Bronx,
Louis Haffen, — afterward President of the Bronx Bor-
ough and during Mayor McClellan's administration
tried and deposed for malfeasance in office — intrigued
against the Poet's Park, partly because some wooden
dwellings on the acreage would have to be bought and
moved off by the city, but still more because he had
made a survey of the Kingsbridge Road which was to
widen and grade it down to an ordinary city street. He
knew that his "improvement" would cut the Poe cottage
in two, thus compelling its destruction or its removal
182 THE STORY OF THE
from its own sacred site — but knowing, he did not care.
Now appears on the scene Mr. Appleton Morgan,
President of the Shakespeare Society of New York.
Early in 1895 he had informed the public that his Society
had bought the Poe cottage for its headquarters. The
money to pay for it, however, had not been forthcoming,
and his plan had collapsed. Hearing of our movement,
he wrote, requesting an invitation to our meetings, which
was cordially granted, as we supposed we should find
in him a fellow-worker in the rescue of the hallowed
spot. But while pretending to act with us, he secretly
joined Mr. Haffen and other Fordham politicians against
us. In collusion with them he drew up a bill to be sent
to their representative at Albany which created a little
park of two and two-thirds acres across the road from
the Poe cottage to which the city could move the cottage
when the Kingsbridge Road should be widened. The
bill did not mention the Poe cottage. Its terms simply
specified a park at "One Hundred and Ninety-second
Street," and it was rushed through the Legislature with-
out the members knowing anything about its connection
with Edgar Poe's last home ! Senator Stranahan,
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Cities, wrote to
Mrs. Peirce that the bill never could have been passed
had they realized such connection. Thereafter for
months Mrs. Peirce devoted her time and gave freely of
her money to the printing and mailing of hundreds of
leaflets and memorials to the Legislature, to the New
York Chamber of Commerce and to many prominent
people, pleading for the ample "Poet's Park" which would
save the cottage from the, to her, sacrilege of moving it
from its own place, as against the paltry "Poe Park"
across the road to which it must be dragged. The
American Authors' Guild joined in these pleadings and
MARY FISHER HOME 183
protests, and its officers appeared with ours before Mayor
Strong in their behalf. All in vain. Within the next
few years the city of New York created the cheap park
intended for the cottage. But the city would not pay the
price for it which its owner demanded. So he simply
drew it back out of the reach of Mr. Haffen's Kings-
bridge Road "improvement" which then went on to cut
down the groves and blast away the rocks of the romantic
spot as the poet knew it, the cottage itself being huddled
close to the new house of the owner, three or four times
And also ever since that time Mr. Appleton Morgan
has represented himself as the originator of what was
in truth Mrs. Peirce's plan, and has not ceased to adver-
tise himself as the saviour of the Poe cottage by means
of the small park known as the "Poe Park" and to
receive much honor and commendation therefor from
Poe lovers and biographers, whereas what he proposed
to the Street Commissioners of New York when his
Shakespeare Society had failed to buy it was — that it
should be moved up to Bronx Park !
Because the foundation for an apartment house is now
being blasted next to the Poe cottage, the city has offered
and the owner has accepted for it $3000, and it will
shortly be moved across Kingsbridge Road to the Poe
Park. That there is even this insignificant plot for it to
be moved to, is wholly owing to the sympathy and co-
operation with Mrs. Peirce of the "Home" as founded
by my associates and myself for "needy brain workers."
Had we not seconded her effort by our meetings at our
(then) Fordham Branch, the Poe Park would never
have been heard of, and the unfortunate cottage would
either have been condemned and destroyed by the city
when the Kingsbridge Road was widened, or, according
184 THE STORY OF THE
to the suggestion of its worst enemy, it would have been
moved a mile or two northward to Bronx Park.
To myself it seems time that in this so-called "rescue"
of the Poe cottage, the literary world, at least, should
now "give honor where honor is due."
of the Expenditures and Receipts of the Poe Cottage
Preservation Committee of The Home Hotel (now the
Mary Fisher Home) in 1895-96, as Condensed from the
Home Hotel Annual Report for 1895-97.
For typewriting, printing, postage and carfare. . $181.18
From Miss Vanderpoel, Mrs. Marion Harland,
Mrs. Theodore Thomas, Mr. Abram G.
Mills, Mr. Wm. D. McCracken 38. 00
From the Committee — Miss Mary A. Fisher,
Mrs. M. Fay Peirce, Sect.-Treas 133. 18
Total $181 . 18
Rose McAlister Coleman's Letter.
167 West 73rd Street,
New York, January 10th, 1913.
My dear Miss Fisher:
Your letter relating to the Poe Cottage was welcome
and interested me, as I knew through Mrs. M. Fay Peirce
of the hard work you ladies did in trying to save the
MARY FISHER HOME 185
grounds as well as the cottage. During Mayor Mc-
Clellan's administration another effort was made by the
"Women's Auxiliary to the American Scenic and Historic
Preservation Society," Miss Vanderpoel, President. At
that time I was Chairman of the Committee. We worked
hard and secured an option on the cottage, hoping the
City would men buy it. After much deliberation the
plan was turned down, as Comptroller Metz of the De-
partment of Finance declared that "to acquire the cot-
tage at the price named (six thousand dollars) would be
a wanton waste of public funds."
I hoped at the time of the Poe Centenary that the
money would be raised, but all in vain. This last autumn,
Hon. Cyrus C. Miller, President of the Borough of the
Bronx, with the approval of Park Commissioner Hig-
gins, found they could secure the property for three
thousand dollars and with an added two thousand move
it into the park on a new foundation. It was necessary
to act at once, as plans had been filed to erect some large
apartment houses adjoining the property. I wrote Mr.
Miller asking if I could help in any way, and at his sug-
gestion sent a letter to the newspapers. The Post, Times
and Tribune published it. I also wrote a letter to the
Board of Estimate and Apportionment, and communi-
cated with Alderman Becker from this district.
You will see from the above that the credit for saving
the cottage is due to President Miller, and I hasten to
assure you that my part has only been a very modest one.
I trust that the City will take every precaution to keep
the cottage as it was originally.
If you can send me any details, as you knew the house
in your early days, I shall take pleasure in forwarding
such an account to Mr. Miller.
I am sure we rejoice that the cottage is saved after
186 THE STORY OF THE
these years of effort. I visited Poe's grave in Baltimore
some years ago, and it was then in a deplorable condition,
but I believe it has since been restored.
With greetings from a " Poe lover,"
Rose McAlister Coleman.
(Mrs. John C.)
Miss Mary Fisher,
325 Highland Ave.,
Mount Vernon, N. Y.
Prof. Vincenzo Botta, who held the chair of literature
at Columbia, had been one of the intimate friends of the
poet. Mrs. Botta drew around her at her weekly recep-
tions the most intellectual and cultured people, and she
was never tired of speaking to us of the poet as she
showed us his portrait — as we gazed upon it a soul of
sadness seemed to speak to us out of his magnificent eyes.
She was always indignant when any one associated in-
temperance with him, and she would tell us that so deli-
cate was his organism that one glass of wine would affect
his sensitive brain and make him dizzy.
Miss Elizabeth Bisland, that brilliant writer, tells us
that it is not to Irving nor Hawthorne that the honor
belongs for creating the modern short-story in America,
it belongs to Poe, he bestowed upon it those rare gifts of
his — a reasoning power of unusual subtlety, an imagina-
tion of extraordinary vividness, a wonderful faculty of
observation, and, above all, a mind wholly unfettered by
tradition. He could recognize completely the artistic
possibilities of the short-story. He brought to it the
highest genius not only of his age, but of his nation, for,
in poetry and in short-story writing, Poe stands first in
MARY FISHER HOME 187
the literature of America. When we realize how poorly
he lived, how cruelly he was imprisoned in a provincial,
Philistine environment, how poverty forced him from the
pursuit of perfection to earn his bread by meagrely paid
journalism, and the work of a fag on a magazine — and
how very short, after all, was his unhappy existence — to
have created so many classics was a sufficient record of
well-doing. And yet this poor young priest of art was
driven to death in the desert. Minor poets jealous of
his genius, and the reviewers who catered to them, in-
vented scandals and rated him as an inebriate — this man
who before he was forty years of age had produced six-
teen volumes, had evolved an entirely new style in verse,
and in it produced half a dozen classic lyrics, who had
created the only important criticism done in America up
to that time. Every work that came from his hand was
created with the painstaking toil of the exact artist. No
victim of alcohol could produce a work like this — only a
clear and bright brain could have accomplished what he
did. No inebriate can labor continuously, devotedly,
patiently as he did. -
And what has been done in the memory of this great
American poet? Edward Payson Terhune, that able
journalist who can discern the genius of Poe, speaks
"This asinine prejudice against him has denied him a
niche in the Hall of Fame as recently as 1900, although
names were put there which the public scarcely knew
of." Surely a monumental tower, a cathedral of art
erected to his memory could not be a hall of fame too
glorious for this poet.
The writer well remembers as a child going occasion-
ally with her father to Kingsbridge in the lumbering old
stage that passed by the home of this poet. It was indeed
188 THE STORY OF THE
as Mrs. Peirce describes it — a spot of rural simplicity and
beauty surrounded by nature. How beautiful it would
have been if the noble effort of Mrs. Peirce had been
carried out — the grounds restored to their original sim-
plicity and beauty, and a park built 'round this cottage.
Little do we know what this poet's sensitive soul must
have suffered. A fragile young wife whom he dearly
loved, slowly dying of consumption, sitting beside him
as he wrote his manuscripts and without the means of
providing for her the necessary medicines and nourish-
ment that she needed.
As his chronicler, Edward Terhune, continues: "With
his child-wife, died all that was youthful and buoyant
in Poe's own heart. Read Anabell Lee, the poem in-
spired by Virginia's death, if you would learn how he
mourned her. To a friend soon afterward he wrote: 'I
see no one among the living as beautiful as my sweet
little wife. I loved her more and more dearly during
the years of her illness until I became insane.' "
A BEAUTIFUL LETTER.
The Century Magazine of April, 1914, gives the follow-
ing letter of Edwin Bjorkman to President Woodrow
Wilson on this subject of recognition to American men
Your entire career as student, scholar, educator, and
administrator constitutes a guaranty that you deem the
spiritual development of a people no less important than
its material welfare. It is also a guaranty of your ability
to interpret the word "spiritual" in the broadest and most
constructive sense. Thus I feel prompted to place be-
MARY FISHER HOME 189
fore you a question that has been fermenting in my mind
for a long time.
Will this nation, as a nation, never do anything for
the encouragement or reward of its poets and men of
The problem involved is a vexatious one, for many
hold that such recognition ill-bestowed is worse than
none at all, and genius bears no infallible mark by which
it may be known to everybody. Furthermore, genius is
at once proud and shy, while unscrupulous mediocrity is
ever ready to usurp its place. But no matter how great
the difficulty may be, I am convinced that this question
must be faced sooner or later, and that some effort must
be made to solve the problems connected with it ; for the
soul of a nation is in its literature.
In pleading for your consideration of this matter, I
am not unaware that from time to time a Lowell, a Haw-
thorne, a Howells has been sent to represent the nation
abroad or assigned to some small government position at
home. But instances of this kind have been too few.
They have mostly been traceable to the action of some
person in power rather than to the nation itself. And
they represent a form of acknowledgment that must be
held equally unsatisfactory to the man appointed and to
the service into which he is appointed.
Despite such crumbs, I insist that this nation, as a
nation, has done nothing. Officially its poets do not
exist, unless it be as numbers connected with the enforce-
ment of the copyright laws. The several States com-
prised within the Union have done as little. Even pri-
vate generosity, ordinarily lavish, has remained singu-
larly indifferent to the needs and claims of literature.
Financial support is not the only thing I have in mind
now, although the granting of it to writers of promise
ipo THE STORY OF THE
represents one of the most important aspects of the ques-
tion to which I am trying to draw your attention. I am
thinking of any and every step that may be taken by this
nation in recognition of the services rendered by its men
of letters in general, and in particular by its creative,
imaginative writers of prose and verse.
To my knowledge there is no other civilized country
that has been guilty of such indifference or lack of fore-
sight. Every Western nation except our own seems to
have devised some way of acknowledging promise or
proved merit in those building its national poetry. Eng-
land knights them or places them on its civil list. France
gives them the Legion of Honor or elects them to the
Academy. My native Sweden has its Academy, too, as
well as a system of literary stipends, not to mention the
Nobel prize, for which the nation as such can take no
credit. Little Norway, which relatively has done more
for modern literature during the last fifty years than any
other country in the world, has been making annual
allowances of public money to struggling young writers
I mention these facts not as examples of what must
needs be done, but as illustrations of what may be done.
I mention them not as ideal solutions of the problem at
hand, but as evidence that other nations, wiser than our
own, have at least endeavored to solve that problem.
Here there are neither academies nor pantheons, ex-
cept "self-made" ones, which, because of their origin, are
lacking in the required prestige. There are no hereditary
distinctions, no decorations of honor ; and we do not
want them. There is no laureateship, and no poet's dole
to be given before or after achievement. There is not
even a Westminster Abbey to which the nation might
relegate the bones of its dead poets with some semblance
MARY FISHER HOME 191
It is easy to answer that a tomb remembered or a tomb
forgot will make no difference to the man buried within
it. But such is human nature that the mere hope of a
final resting-place in some poets' corner becomes not only
an incentive, but an actual reward, because the individual
member feels himself a participant in the honor accruing
to the profession in its entirety.
When a Peary reaches the north pole, Congress feels
impelled to take special action for the reward of his
deed. But it has apparently never occurred to anybody
in Congress or out of it that the conquest of both poles
means nothing to us in comparison with the everlasting
possession of those delectable lands of fancy discovered
by a Mark Twain.
It might almost be said that poetry is the one form of
legitimate human activity that has obtained no otticial
recognition for those pursuing it. At this point of my
pleading, your thought may turn to the Library of Con-
gress. But that otherwise admirable institution does not
hold the same relationship to the man of letters that the
Department of Agriculture holds to the farmer, or the
Department of Commerce and Labor to the merchant
and the mechanic. It has been designed for the public,
not for the poet, and even his accomplished work, will
count for little within its walls until he has passed far
beyond the trials and triumphs of human life.
Neither in quantity nor in quality can the poetry so
far produced by this nation be held commensurate to its
greatness in other fields. A connection between this
comparative backwardness and the absence of any con-
scious effort to foster a national poetry will, of course, be
hard to prove. But I, for one, believe that such a con-
nection exists. And I believe that we shall never raise
our poetry to the level of our other achievements until
192 THE STORY OF THE
we, as a nation, try to find some method of providing
money for the poet's purse and laurels for his brow.
I believe, too, that any official recognition of the ser-
vices rendered to the nation by its singers and story-
tellers and playwrights and essayists and critics will
have additional value as a sign both to the nation itself
and to the rest of the world that it has begun to turn in
earnest from that preoccupation with material affairs
which in the past has been named as one of its worst
shortcomings. Whatever its detractors at home and
abroad may say to the contrary, this nation is by no
means lacking in idealism. It is, indeed, full of lofty
dreams and pure ambitions. All it needs is to give this
side of itself a chance. That it do so is the ultimate
object of my present appeal.
I come to you, Mr. President, with no definite plan of
action, with no panaceas of my own or other people's
making, with no detailed demands or minutely formu-
lated desires. I am purposely restricting myself to that
one general, all-inclusive question, in order that the pos-
sible ineffectiveness of my own ideas may not furnish
weapons for those who are hostile to the principle itself.
There is no personal expectation or private ambition be-
hind my question. I have simply learned by bitter
experience what it means to strive for sincere artistic
expression in a field where brass is commonly valued
above gold. And I should like to see the road made a
little less hard, and the goal a little more attractive, lest
too many of those that come after lose their courage and
let themselves be tempted by the incessant clangor of
metal in the market-place.
My eyes, with those of many others, have been follow-
ing you from day to day. My faith has been growing
steadily as I watched. I have gradually come to feel
MARY FISHER HOME 193
that in you the country has found that rarest of public
servants: a wise man whose wisdom has not lamed his
power of acting firmly and strongly. I know that you
have studied human nature as it is, as it has been, and
as it may become. I know that you understand us, both
those who have been born here and those who have come
from other countries in search of a keener air and better
chances. I know that you discern clearly what can and
what cannot be done. For all these reasons I believe
that you are the man to lead in this.
I am making this appeal on behalf of a profession
which is dear to me for more reasons than that it is my
own — the art of interpreting man to himself by means
of the divine power that lies hidden in the word. I am
making it on behalf of men and women who are striving
against tremendous odds to give this nation a poetry
equaling in worth and glory that of any other nation in
the world. But I trust that you at least will perceive
that, first and last and most of all, I am making this
appeal on behalf of the nation itself.
Without the literature that radiates truth as well as
beauty, that soul must wither.
The time has come, I feel, when this nation, for the
saving of its own soul, must give serious and loving
thought to its poets and men of letters. Some one whom
the people trust must take the first step in the new direc-
tion : there is to-day probably no one whom they trust to
a greater extent than you, and I can think of no other
fitter for the task I suggest.
This admirable letter of Edwin Bjorkman voices the
opinion of many Americans. And in this age of pro-
gress, when there is a tendency and a movement for a
universal democracy, we have every reason to hope that
IP4 THE STORY OF THE
before very long there may be this recognition so much
Our Tenafly Home is beautifully situated with lovely
grounds and one hundred lofty trees. A short walk from
the station and trolley line, library and churches. Visitors
are always welcome.
We are sadly in need of a new building. Will not
some one do this for us, as a memorial to some loved
one who has passed away?
Mary A. Fisher,
The Mary Fisher Home,
Tenafly, N. J.